Air New Zealand starts flights on third quarantine-free Australian route

Air New Zealand has expanded the number of quarantine-free routes it flies to Australia, although airlines are still waiting for a two-way travel bubble to emerge before a significant rebound in the New Zealand-Australia market can occur.

From Jan. 7, Air New Zealand will begin quarantine-free flights from Auckland (AKL) to Brisbane (BNE), the third Australian city to receive such services.

The airline will offer 3X-weekly weekly flights for passengers eligible to waive quarantine, and two weekly flights for those that do not qualify and must still quarantine on arrival. To avoid quarantine, passengers must have been in New Zealand for the preceding 14 days. Air New Zealand already offers the same number of flights between AKL and Melbourne (MEL), and 5-6 quarantine-free flights and two quarantine flights each week from AKL to Sydney (SYD).

All of the carrier’s quarantine-free Australian services are operated by Airbus A320/A321 aircraft from AKL, and are flown by crew that have only operated within New Zealand or Australia within the past 14 days.

Qantas offers two weekly flights from AKL to SYD—both quarantine-free. Virgin Australia has not yet resumed flying between Australia and New Zealand as it believes the services are not commercially viable until two-way travel without restrictions is allowed.

While major Australian states allow travelers from New Zealand to enter without quarantine, so far the New Zealand government has not reciprocated and requires 14 days of quarantine for passengers entering from Australia. The New Zealand government has agreed in principle to establish a two-way travel bubble with Australia in the first quarter of this year, but this depends on whether COVID-19 is under control in both countries. Australia is currently dealing with another spike in infections.

Photo credit: Air New Zealand

Adrian Schofield

Adrian is a senior air transport editor for Aviation Week, based in New Zealand. He covers commercial aviation in the Asia-Pacific region.