Air New Zealand will restart its flights between Australia and Norfolk Island in late August. The Auckland-based airline previously operated flights between the Australian mainland and the isolated island territory. However, those flights ended those flights earlier this year. Now, after signing a deal with the Australian Government, Air New Zealand will resume flights until August 2023.
Three flights a week to Norfolk Island from Brisbane & Sydney
From August 31, Air New Zealand will operate flights to Norfolk Island (NLK) from Brisbane (BNE) three times weekly and Sydney (SYD) three times weekly. Air New Zealand will use 168 seat all-economy class Airbus A320-200 on the two routes.
Norfolk Island was first settled in 1788 and established as a penal colony for England’s most recalcitrant prisoners. The island is located approximately 930 miles (1500 kilometers) east of the Australian mainland. Norfolk Island’s permanent population of 2,170 is highly reliant on its air links.
“Ensuring reliable passenger air services for Norfolk Island remains a key priority for the Australian Government, and I am delighted that the extension of Air New Zealand’s services provides the community with certainty on this matter,” says Eric Hutchinson, Administrator of Norfolk Island.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
Norfolk Island flights an essential service
The Australian Government is providing Air New Zealand subsidies to fly to Norfolk Island. The Government considers the flights an essential service. Effective August 31, NZ914 will push back from Brisbane at 10:15 on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. The flight will land in Norfolk Island at 13:30. The return flights, NZ915, will operate on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, departing Norfolk Island at 14:40 and touching down in Brisbane at 16:05
Air New Zealand’s nonstop flights from Sydney, NZ912, will depart that city at 09:55 on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday and arrive in Norfolk Island at 13:35. The return flights to Sydney, NZ913, will leave Norfolk Island at 14:40 on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. NZ913 will land in Sydney at 16:30.
“Air New Zealand has been operating between Australia and Norfolk Island since 2012 and was the only airline operating scheduled services between Norfolk and mainland Australia during 2020. We know our customers value these services, and we’re thrilled to be able to resume the route from late August,” says Air New Zealand’s Chief Operating Officer, Carrie Hurihanganui.
Air New Zealand sets up a crew base in Brisbane
Along with New Zealand, Norfolk Island is one of the very few offshore destinations Australians are free to fly to. However, Air New Zealand will temporarily establish a crew base in Brisbane to operate its Norfolk Island flights to minimize potential disruptions.
“Prior to the trans-Tasman bubble opening, crew operating domestic flights in Australia were required to have been in Australia for 14 days or have arrived in Australia on a quarantine-free flight. This, unfortunately, resulted in us having to suspend services between Norfolk Island and mainland Australia in February,” says Hurihanganui.
“Having crew based in Australia will ensure we avoid disruption should the Australian border close again.”
When Air New Zealand paused its Norfolk Island flights earlier this year, Qantas stepped into the breach. The Sydney-based airline is now operating government-subsidized Boeing 737-800 services from both Brisbane and Sydney. Those flights have proved relatively popular, especially with Qantas frequent flyers keen to burn some points. Qantas is yet to confirm whether it will continue its Norfolk Island flights after August.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Air Chathams resumed flying between Auckland and Norfolk Island last week after 12 months plus off the route. Air Chathams uses Saab 340 aircraft to fly to Norfolk Island weekly, with plans to increase to twice-weekly in August.