Continuing border uncertainty has forced Air New Zealand to cancel more than 1,000 flights between Australia and New Zealand between now and December 31. The move comes after the New Zealand Government indicated it is unlikely to restart quarantine-free travel from Australia this year.
Air New Zealand says its hands are tied
In a trans-Tasman schedule update on Monday, Air New Zealand said it would cancel all NZ100 and NZ200 series flights for travel between December 1 and 31, 2021. Air New Zealand’s Chief Customer and Sales Officer, Leanne Geraghty, said the cancelations would impact around 20,000 passengers.
“This will be particularly tough news for families and friends who were hoping to catch up over Christmas,” Ms Geraghty said in a statement.
“But our hands are tied until border restrictions ease, and we receive further clarity from the New Zealand government.”
While Australia is allowing fully vaccinated Kiwis to fly into Sydney or Melbourne and skip the quarantine process, New Zealand is yet to restart the travel corridor at their end.
New Zealand reported 205 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with 69% of the adult population fully vaccinated. Over 85% of adult Australians are fully vaccinated, although rates do vary around the country.
Scaled back Air New Zealand flights still flying to Sydney & Melbourne
On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a three-month plus lockdown in Auckland would end on December 2. But the PM also said existing quarantine rules would stay in place for the remainder of this year, prompting Air New Zealand to make its move.
Air New Zealand is suspending flights to Australia altogether. The airline will continue to operate a scaled-back number of flights into Sydney and Melbourne for passengers coming from New Zealand. Passengers who snagged a spot in New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) program can fly to New Zealand on similarly scaled-back schedules operating between Sydney and Melbourne and Auckland.
One day after the announcement, Air New Zealand’s website shows what Auckland-Sydney-Auckland flights will operate across December. Flights into Sydney will operate daily except Saturday. Flights from Sydney will operate every day bar Tuesdays and Saturdays. A Boeing 787-9 will operate these flights over December.
Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 flights between Auckland and Melbourne will operate on Sundays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays across December. The return flight to Auckland departs after lunch on each of these days.
Air New Zealand December flights to Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth & Hobart canceled
With the border open between New South and Victoria, a fully vaccinated passenger fresh off an Air New Zealand in Melbourne can immediately fly to Sydney (and vice versa) without any issues.
But Air New Zealand has suspended its December flying schedules into other Australian cities, including Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, and Perth. Those states still have strict entry and quarantine protocols in place. However, Adelaide is opening up to fully vaccinated travelers from Melbourne and Sydney from today.
“We are working with the Queensland and Western Australian Governments to secure quarantine space in order to operate managed return flights from New Zealand to Brisbane and Perth. An update will be provided in due course,” said the Air New Zealand travel advisory. “We appreciate this is an incredibly unsettling time for customers.”
Air New Zealand has canceled scheduled flights from Christchurch, Wellington, and Queenstown direct to Sydney and Melbourne throughout December. The airline is only offering to send these passengers via Auckland in the second half of the month.
Air New Zealand’s schedule for January onwards remains unchanged, pending further updates from the New Zealand Government.