Air New Zealand and Jetstar have been taking advantage of a new one-way travel bubble that has opened up between New Zealand and the Australian state of New South Wales. While Air New Zealand today operated its first quarantine free flight, Jetstar operated its first international flight since restrictions began.
Since March, travel worldwide has been heavily restricted as countries looked to stem the spread of COVID-19 around the globe. A few states are now open to travelers. However, the majority still have at least some form of restrictions, such as a mandatory 14-day quarantine in place.
Air New Zealand’s quarantine free flights
As a result of the new travel bubble opening between New Zealand and New South Wales, New Zealand’s flag carrier has been able to operate its first quarantine free flight in a long time. The first flight to run free of quarantine was NZ 103.
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Flight NZ103 was operated by one of Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, registered as ZK-NZR. The flight departed 26 minutes late at 11:06. Despite the late departure, the flight made good time. With a total flight time of 2-hours and 54-minutes, the 787 touched down at 11:59, 21 minutes early, according to data from FlightRadar24.com.
The airline is operating eight weekly flights to Australia. Two of these will remain flights where quarantine on arrival is still required. As those originating in New Zealand aren’t able to take these flights, they will be for passengers not covered by the travel bubble.
However, for those on a quarantine free flight, this will only be in one direction, with restrictions varying beyond New South Wales. All arrivals into New Zealand are currently still required to quarantine for 14-days at their own expense.
Commenting on the flights, Air New Zealand’s CEO Greg Foran said,
“It’s been a huge undertaking to ensure we are ready for this one-way arrangement. We know passengers onboard may have been waiting a while to get back to New South Wales. Around 90 percent of those traveling on [NZ103] are booked to travel one-way.”
Such an emotional day! 😭
Today, we welcome the first flights from New Zealand under the new quarantine-free travel arrangements.
More than 350 passengers have been reunited with their family and friends for the first time in more than six months. pic.twitter.com/7niOQqfNAj
— Sydney Airport ✈️ (@SydneyAirport) October 16, 2020
What about Jetstar?
Air New Zealand wasn’t the only airline to take advantage of the new travel bubble. Indeed, today Jetstar operated its first international flight since early April. Jetstar opted for a slightly smaller aircraft than Air New Zealand. An Airbus A320 registered as VH-VFP. Jetstar’s service will operate three times per week.
Jetstar’s flight departed from Auckland as JQ204 at 12:13. This was 13 minutes behind the planned time of noon. However, like the Air New Zealand flight, this aircraft also landed early. 20 minutes early, in fact, at 13:20 with a flight time of 3-hours 7-minutes. This was the first time that JQ204 had operated since January 25th, according to data from FlightRadar24.com.
The two airlines will have a third rival on the route between Auckland and Sydney soon enough. According to Jetstar, Qantas will operate two flights a week on the route for the time being.
Are you glad to see travel reopen between New Zealand and Australia? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!