Tasmania Expected To Get First International Services In 23 Years

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Tasmania is set to get its first regularly timetabled international flights in 23 years, with Air New Zealand poised to begin flights between Auckland and Hobart in late April. As New Zealand gears up to allow trans-Tasman travel without quarantining, one of Australia’s best-kept secrets will soon get better connected to the world.

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Air New Zealand expects to begin flights to Tasmania in late April. Photo: Airbus

Air New Zealand sending the A320neo to Hobart

Flying to Tasmania has always been an awkward business. Typically, you have to connect in either Sydney or Melbourne. Coming off a long-haul flight, that’s usually the last thing you feel like doing.

Set to begin in late April and subject to the New Zealand Government giving the final tick of approval to a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand, Air New Zealand will begin flying one of its A320neos between Auckland and Hobart on Thursdays and Sundays.

Air New Zealand’s A320neos seat 165 passengers in an all-coach class cabin. Those passengers pining for a few extra comforts can book a Works Deluxe package. It is around 2,500 kilometers between the two cities, or a bit over three hours flying time.

“Our Hobart – Auckland route will open a direct link between 540,000 potential Tasmanian tourists and our biggest city,” says Air New Zealand’s CEO Greg Foran.

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New Zealand poised to greenlight the travel bubble

But it all hangs on the long-awaited travel bubble getting the green light. Australia already allows most New Zealanders to skip the otherwise mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine. New Zealand hasn’t reciprocated. But the expectation is New Zealand soon will.

“There’s been a lot of speculation around whether or not it will happen at all. We have never stopped working on the issue of the trans-Tasman bubble,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday. “We remain committed to it.”

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Ms Ardern is scheduled to hold a media conference at 16:00 (Auckland time) on Monday with further travel bubble details. With Air New Zealand gearing up to head to Tasmania, the island state’s capital city of Hobart will emerge as one of the big winners.

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Air New Zealand’s arrival in Hobart will be welcomed at Hobart Airport. Photo: Getty Images

A long wait for Hobart International Airport

The always ambitiously named Hobart International Airport hasn’t seen a timetabled international service since 1998. Until then, Air New Zealand ran a weekly service between Christchurch and Hobart. That service was axed because it wasn’t commercially viable.

Since then, Hobart has upgraded its terminal, extended the runway, and touted its wares to various international airlines – all without success. At one point, when Chinese carriers were expanding fast, there was a hope a Chinese airline might add Hobart to its map. There was also a suggestion one of the Gulf carriers might add Hobart as a tag flight from Melbourne. But Hobart’s international terminal remained largely unused.

“The introduction of this new international service into Tasmania is great news for our community and our tourism industry as it will bring more visitors to our shores who are keen to spend, as well as opening up new areas for Tasmanians keen to travel,” said Tasmanian Premier, Peter Gutwein.

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The new flights mark Air New Zealand’s return to Hobart after a 23-year absence. Photo: Christopher Neugebauer via Wikimedia Commons

Air New Zealand flights open up new connection possibilities for Tasmanians

Mr Gutwein says all going well, a third weekly flight may be on the table. For the half a million people who live in Tasmania, Auckland Airport could offer a more convenient and user-friendly transit port for connecting onto long-haul flights than Sydney or Melbourne. That’s certainly a live option if you’re heading to or from the Americas.

Access to the sunshine tourist destinations of Hawaii, Fiji, and the Cook Islands could also be easier. Air New Zealand has always done solid business connecting travelers through Auckland to and from Australia’s secondary capital cities.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson told Simple Flying flights between Auckland and Hobart will go on sale when the New Zealand Government greenlights the travel bubble.

Will Air New Zealand succeed this time round flying to Tasmania? Post a comment and let us know.

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