The New Zealand Government has confirmed the inevitable – suspending quarantine-free travel from Australia for a further eight weeks. At the same time, Air New Zealand further cut their flying to and from Australia until the end of November.
New Zealand extends quarantine-free travel pause until mid-November
On Friday, New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins extended the quarantine-free flight suspension until November 19. The current suspension, implemented on July 23, was due to expire on September 24.
“When quarantine-free travel (QFT) was established with Australia, both our countries had very few recent cases of COVID-19 community transmission and a very similar elimination strategy. This has changed significantly, leading to our decision to suspend QFT for a further eight weeks,” Mr Hipkins said.
“The decision is critical to provide clarity for people in Australia to make informed decisions about their ability to shelter in place in the longer term or whether to seek return flights and book space in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).”
Air New Zealand cuts already reduced flights to Australia
Citing the New Zealand Government announcement and ongoing uncertainty regarding the length of the Australian Government’s pause, Air New Zealand has slashed its planned flights to and from Australia over October and November. This includes canceling all quarantine-free flights.
Air New Zealand will offer weekly passenger flights to three Australian destinations between September 25 and November 30. The airline will fly from Auckland to Brisbane every Saturday over the period. Air New Zealand will fly between Auckland and Melbourne and Auckland and Perth on Sundays.
Earlier this month, Air New Zealand was planning daily 787-9 flights in Melbourne from Auckland in addition to flights from Wellington, Queenstown, and Christchurch. Air New Zealand had already planned to skip passenger flights into Sydney over October. That is now continuing into and throughout November.
Air New Zealand notes its Australia-bound flights will be capacity constrained to match the limited spaces for mandatory isolation allocated to the airline by the Australian Government.
Limited flights to New Zealand are available
Heading to New Zealand, the airline is offering slightly more options, including some flights from Sydney. The airline will operate four Sydney – Auckland flights over the September 25 – November 30 period – on October 17, October 31, November 7, and November 21.
Melbourne will see weekly flights to Auckland over the period, departing on Sundays. Weekly departures will operate from Brisbane until the end of October. Over November, just two ex-Brisbane Air New Zealand passenger flights will run – on November 13 and 27.
Weekly (every Sunday) flights from Perth will operate until October 24. Currently, there are no Air New Zealand passenger flights to New Zealand scheduled from Perth over November.
Out of the schedules until at least the end of November are Adelaide, Hobart, and the Gold Coast. Air New Zealand had previously paused flights to Cairns and Maroochydore until March.
Passengers heading to New Zealand will need to quarantine for 14 days and provide a negative test before boarding the plane. Air New Zealand advises prospective passengers to confirm a MIQ room before booking any flights.
“We’re announcing the decision so that people in Australia can participate in the MIQ room release on Monday for rooms in October and November. Travelers from Australia need to visit the MIQ website to find out how to participate. There will be a second room release later in the month,” said Mr Hipkins.
“A third red flight from Australia to New Zealand is also planned for those in emergency situations. This follows the two red flights that returned stranded Kiwis home to New Zealand on September 5 and 15.”
“We will review this decision in mid to late November to give more time for our vaccination rates to climb higher.”