World

Hurdles Australian tourists face flying to New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern says NZ has missed Aussies

Australians could face many roadblocks before they can freely travel to New Zealand when the trans-Tasman travel bubble opens up on April 19, but Jacinda Ardern admits the nation has missed Aussie tourists. 

An unexpected Covid outbreak has the potential to cause cancelled flights or even force Aussies into 14-day hotel quarantine upon their arrival or return, while aviation experts warn fares could be driven up due to fewer routes being offered.

The Air New Zealand website states ‘quarantine-free travel is not guaranteed and is subject to change at short notice, customers travel at their own risk and must be prepared for changes’.  

Aussie travellers also need to meet the New Zealand government’s strict criteria before flying into the country without being required to quarantine.  

Tourists must not be awaiting the results of a test, not be experiencing a cough, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of sense of smell, or a fever of at least 38C.  

Jacinda Ardern admitted New Zealand has 'absolutely missed' Australians during the pandemic

Jacinda Ardern admitted New Zealand has ‘absolutely missed’ Australians during the pandemic

Air Intelligence aviation economist Tony Webber predicts many Australians will wait until the vaccine roll out is completed before rushing out to book international flights

Air Intelligence aviation economist Tony Webber predicts many Australians will wait until the vaccine roll out is completed before rushing out to book international flights

Aviation expert and chairman of Strategic Aviation Solutions, Neil Hansford, said increased demand could lead to rising fare prices.

‘The prices filed are attractive, I think they know they need to be as full as a state school,’ he told the ABC. 

Air Intelligence aviation economist Tony Webber echoed Mr Hansford’s fears, saying prices aren’t likely to stay as cheap as they are now. 

‘Airlines need to repair their bottom line and prices will go up when demand starts to outstrip supply,’ he said. 

He also predicted many Australians will wait until the vaccine roll out is completed before rushing out to book international flights. 

‘I’ve got no confidence in travel at the moment. The fear of outbreaks is having an effect on confidence in travel,’ he said. 

Ms Ardern warned that with the pandemic still wreaking havoc in many other parts of the world the rules could be subject to rapid change if an outbreak occurs in either country.

‘Those undertaking travel on either side of the ditch will do so under the guidance of flyer beware. People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak,’ she said.

Australians heading to New Zealand will be kept separate from other international arrivals who are still required to go into mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days. 

Ms Ardern has said there will be no vaccine requirement when travelling in the trans-Tasman bubble, but strict Covid protocols will still be carried out. 

Passengers will be required to undergo random temperature checks, wear facemasks during the flight and must download New Zealand’s Covid Tracer app. 

All travellers on board a ‘green zone flight’ must also have been in Australia for at least 14 days before departure.

Ms Ardern said despite her government’s tardiness in opening up, New Zealanders had ‘absolutely missed’ Australia over the pandemic. 

‘I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we have absolutely missed you,’ she said on the Today Show on Wednesday morning. 

Passengers travelling from Australia to New Zealand will no longer need to quarantine on arrival after the trans-Tasman travel bubble was given the green light to start from Monday, April 19 (pictured, a passenger at Sydney Airport)

Passengers travelling from Australia to New Zealand will no longer need to quarantine on arrival after the trans-Tasman travel bubble was given the green light to start from Monday, April 19 (pictured, a passenger at Sydney Airport)

Qantas and Air New Zealand have announced the addition of hundreds of flights between Australia and New Zealand from April 19 to support the travel bubble (stock image)

Qantas and Air New Zealand have announced the addition of hundreds of flights between Australia and New Zealand from April 19 to support the travel bubble (stock image)

‘We want you to come and see us again. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, that’s definitely the case for us here.

‘You won’t find a Kiwi that won’t have a story of someone in Australia that they have missed and they really want to welcome back.’ 

Meanwhile, airlines have wasted no time in adding hundreds of flights between Australia and New Zealand after the long awaited trans-Tasman travel bubble was cleared for take-off, with some return services going for less than $500. 

Qantas and Jetstar announced a combined 122 weekly return flights between the two countries from April 19 just moments after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said travellers from Australia would no longer need to quarantine.

The two airlines will operate the same routes as they did before the Covid pandemic hit, while adding two new services for travellers to take advantage of – Auckland to Cairns and the Gold Coast.   

Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said on Tuesday night the airline had been ‘run off our feet’ as thousands of people desperate to travel and be reunited with loved ones booked flights, with Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne the most popular destinations.

But Virgin Australia, which was rescued from administration last year, will not return to trans-Tasman flying before October as it instead focuses on its domestic operations in Australia. 

Sydney to Auckland was Australia’s most popular overseas route in February 2020, with 122,905 passengers – or 4.4 per cent of all international traffic – darting between each country’s most populous cities. Melbourne to Auckland was fourth. 

A return flight between Sydney and Auckland with Jetstar departing on April 19 – the day the bubble kicks-off – is currently selling on their website for as little as $480. 

Qantas has return flights between Sydney and Auckland departing in late April starting at $658. Return flights between the two cities pre-travel bubble were as much as $1173 when Qantas only operated a handful of flights. 

A return flight from Brisbane to Christchurch on Australia’s national carrier in late April can be found from $764, while depending on dates Melbourne to Auckland can be booked for $781. 

Melbourne to Christchurch on Jetstar can be snapped up for $683 return and Brisbane to Auckland for $629.   

Air New Zealand said its was ramping up flights between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown and eight of its Australian ports now quarantine-free travel has become a reality.

Most services will start on April 19 except flights between Auckland and Adelaide which will begin in May and Auckland and Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast services from June.

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern (pictured) announced quarantine free travel between New Zealand and Australia on Tuesday

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern (pictured) announced quarantine free travel between New Zealand and Australia on Tuesday

The trans-Tasman bubble is the first chance Australians have to travel overseas without requiring an exemption since the Covid pandemic hit (pictured, passengers at Sydney Airport)

The trans-Tasman bubble is the first chance Australians have to travel overseas without requiring an exemption since the Covid pandemic hit (pictured, passengers at Sydney Airport)

What the airlines say:

Qantas and Jetstar:

‘To help more Australians and New Zealanders reunite after a year apart, Qantas and Jetstar will restart flying to all pre-Covid destinations in New Zealand when the two-way trans-Tasman bubble opens later this month.

‘The national carrier will also launch two new routes direct from Auckland to Cairns and the Gold Coast, providing travellers with more options for holidays in Queensland and New Zealand.

‘From April 19, 2021, Qantas and Jetstar will initially operate up to 122 return flights per week across the Tasman on 15 routes, offering more than 52,000 seats each week.’

Air New Zealand:

‘From April 19, 2021, Air New Zealand will be ramping up flights between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown and eight of its Australian ports.’ 

Virgin Australia:

‘While the airline remains committed to trans-Tasman flying when the market fully recovers, we are mindful of evolving border requirements which add complexity to our business as we push ahead with plans to grow our core domestic Australia operations.

‘For this reason, we have suspended the sale of most New Zealand services until October 31, 2021. A limited schedule for flights to and from Queenstown will remain available for booking from September 18, 2021.’

The airline is yet to announce a start date for flights between Auckland and Hobart.  

The New Zealand flag carrier is offering flights for about $580 return from Sydney to Auckland, a route they will operate up to five times a day.

A return flight between Brisbane and Wellington in late April is going for $666, Melbourne to Christchurch is $531 and Sydney to Queenstown is $662.  

‘Pre-Covid-19, Australia was the largest tourism market for both our airline and New Zealand. We know a lot of tourism operators have been feeling the lack of international visitors so we’re looking forward to playing a role in New Zealand’s recovery,’ Mr Foran said. 

Virgin Australia said while the travel bubble ‘is a step in the right direction and provides a boost of confidence for travellers looking to reunite with family and friends and do business across the Tasman’ its focus was currently on Australia. 

‘While the airline remains committed to trans-Tasman flying when the market fully recovers, we are mindful of evolving border requirements which add complexity to our business as we push ahead with plans to grow our core domestic Australia operations,’ the airline said in a statement. 

Jacinda Ardern's said Kiwis have missed there friends and family members in Australia over the past year (pictured: passengers arriving in Sydney International Airport from NZ)

Jacinda Ardern’s said Kiwis have missed there friends and family members in Australia over the past year (pictured: passengers arriving in Sydney International Airport from NZ) 

What if an outbreak happens? 

Despite the good news New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned the bubble could burst at any moment if an outbreak occurs in either country.

‘Those undertaking travel on either side of the ditch will do so you were the guidance of flyer beware,’ she warned.

‘People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak.

In the case of an outbreak a decision will be made to ‘continue, pause or suspend’ depending on the size and seriousness of the cluster.

‘If a case is found that is quite clearly linked to a border worker in a quarantine facility and is well contained, you’ll likely see travel continue,’ Ms Ardern said.

But in a drastic scenario, travellers may even be forced into isolation.

‘If, however, a case was found that was not clearly linked to the border, and a state responded by a short lockdown to identify more information, we’d likely pause flights from that state in the same way we would stop travel into and out of a region in New Zealand,’ Ms Ardern said.

‘For this reason, we have suspended the sale of most New Zealand services until October 31, 2021. A limited schedule for flights to and from Queenstown will remain available for booking from September 18, 2021.’

Ms Ardern said on Tuesday New Zealand’s federal cabinet is now satisfied the conditions needed for quarantine-free travel have been met.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the development is the first of many more steps to come as the two countries get back to a normal in the wake of the pandemic. 

‘I very much appreciate the arrangement the New Zealand government has come to today, we welcome them back as indeed Kiwis will be welcoming Aussies,’ he said.

‘That means more planes in the air, more jobs on the ground and in the air as well for our airlines.’     

The bubble will allow travellers from Australia and New Zealand to travel between the two countries without quarantining (pictured: passengers at Sydney Airport)

The bubble will allow travellers from Australia and New Zealand to travel between the two countries without quarantining (pictured: passengers at Sydney Airport)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) said the development is the first of many more steps to come as the two countries get back to a normal in the wake of the pandemic

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) said the development is the first of many more steps to come as the two countries get back to a normal in the wake of the pandemic

Ms Ardern said the news will come as a great relief for many Kiwis who have been unable to see loved ones from across the ditch.

‘One sacrifice that has been particularly hard for many to bear over the past year has not been able to see friends and family who live in Australia,’ she said.

‘Our health response now gives us an opportunity to visit with loved ones again as we start a new chapter in our recovery.’

While Ms Ardern acknowledged that Queensland’s recent outbreak did cause some concern for cross border travel, the cluster has now been ‘contained’.

‘The cabinet believes any residual risk can be managed,’ she said. 

Airport executives say they will be ready for the April 19 start date at 11:59pm on Sunday, with health officials due to inspect Auckland Airport this week with a view to clearing the country’s biggest airport for takeoff.   

New Zealand sporting teams to stay put despite travel bubble 

New Zealand sporting teams won’t rush home from their temporary Australian bases but say confirmation of a travel bubble between the countries allows them to dream of their next game in front of home fans.

The New Zealand Government announced on Tuesday quarantine-free, trans-Tasman travel will be allowed from April 19.

The NRL’s Warriors and A-League’s Wellington Phoenix will remain in Australia but plan to host games later this season, while the bubble is also promising for the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament due to begin on May 14.

The Warriors are based in Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast and plan to return to Auckland on June 21 ahead of their first game on July 2.

The Wollongong-based Phoenix will remain there for the rest of the A-League season.

While their schedule is set until mid May, they are hopeful of playing two of their last four games beyond that in New Zealand.

The NBL’s Breakers have also shifted between Melbourne and Hobart since December and are set to play home games in Launceston later this month.

They are now hopeful of also playing in New Zealand at the back end of the season.

‘It’s incredibly exciting for us to have some dates set in stone; it’s something we knew was coming for a long time but seems to have taken forever,’ Breakers veteran Tom Abercrombie said.

‘We’ve been away since early December and feels like we’ve been absolutely everywhere except home.

‘It’s extremely exciting; I don’t like to get too far ahead of myself but it looks like things are on the up… to have some certainty now it gives us a little pep in our step.’

Rugby Australia will also hope the bubble remains open throughout May and June to ensure their five-week home-and-away tournament against New Zealand’s Super Rugby outfits can go ahead.

Both countries are currently playing separate five-team domestic tournaments, with the combined competition to give the code a timely shot of momentum ahead of France’s visit and a potential Rugby Championship on home soil later this year.

 Source AAP


Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button