Air New Zealand has extended booking restrictions on its Australia bound flights. It follows the Australian Government extending its cap on international passenger arrivals until the end of October. Air New Zealand knows it’s not an ideal situation but says its decision is a response to government restrictions.
Air New Zealand extends ban on new bookings to Australia
In July, the Australian Government put limits on how many international passengers could arrive at Australia’s airports. It also set limits on many passengers could come in on each international flight.
“There is currently a cap of 25 passenger arrivals per flight into Brisbane and around 40 passenger arrivals per flight into Sydney,” said Air New Zealand in a statement yesterday.
The move by the Australian Government saw thousands of passengers across multiple airlines with confirmed bookings bumped off flights.
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In response, in late July, Air New Zealand stopped accepting new bookings on flights Australia bound flights. Their reasoning was simple – they wanted to minimize potential disruptions to future travel bookings. The airline also had a substantial backlog of passengers bumped off flights they needed to get across to Australia at some point.
Government restrictions make life difficult for Air New Zealand
That initial booking ban was to last until August 28. But the Australian Government extended its cap on arrival numbers earlier this week until October 24. That forced Air New Zealand to extend its ban on new bookings to Australia until that date. There is one exception – the airline does have limited availability to Sydney in September.
“When it comes to flights to Sydney, we do have availability from early September for those who wish to book. With Brisbane, while there is currently a hold on new bookings, we expect flights may become available as customers make changes to their bookings or no longer wish to travel,” said an Air New Zealand spokesperson.
Air New Zealand suspended its flights into Melbourne in early July after Melbourne Airport closed to international arrivals. The closure was initially for two weeks, but the airport remains closed to international arrivals six weeks later.
The kiwi airline has done a sterling job keeping connections between Australia and New Zealand open throughout 2020. Presently, Air New Zealand is the only airline connecting the two countries. The airline is running four services a week between Auckland and Sydney and three services a week between Auckland and Brisbane. Until Melbourne Airport closed, Air New Zealand was running three services a week between Auckland and Melbourne.
Hopes of a travel bubble popped
Air New Zealand had high hopes of a travel bubble getting initiated between Australia and New Zealand over the southern hemisphere winter. That’s come to naught. Melbourne is in the grip of a second COVID-19 outbreak, and previously COVID-19 free New Zealand had just recorded a dozen new cases – its first in over three months.
Even before the fresh New Zealand outbreak, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden told media earlier in August that the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble was off the table for the time being.
“Anywhere where we have COVID-free travel, they have to be free of community transmission for a period of time, that will be some time for Australia,” said the PM.