20,000 travellers hit by cancellation of 1,000 flights between Australia and New Zealand

Air New Zealand ©AirTeamImages

Owing to border uncertainty between Australia and New Zealand in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, Air New Zealand has been forced to cancel all flights between the two countries through to December 31, 2021.

Leanne Geraghty, Air New Zealand’s Chief Customer and Sales Officer estimated that in all, 20,000 customers would be affected by the decision, while confirming that the carrier’s schedule for January 2022 and onwards would remain in place for the time being. “Continued border uncertainty between NZ and Australia means Air New Zealand cancelled more than 1,000 flights through to December 31, 2021,” said Geraghty, adding that: “This will be particularly tough news for families and friends who were hoping to catch up over Christmas.” She stressed: “But our hands are tied until border restrictions ease and we receive further clarity from the New Zealand government.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had enacted an eight-week suspension between the two countries on July 23, which was subsequently extended on September 17. Though the situation was to be reviewed in mid-November, there has been no indication there will be any changes to the restrictions. “When QFT (quarantine-free travel) was established with Australia, both our countries had very few recent cases of COVID-19 community transmission and a very similar elimination strategy,” said New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins at the time. “This has changed significantly leading to our decision to suspend QFT for a further eight weeks.”

‘Red flights’ for customers who need to undergo managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) will still be carried out. This includes limited flights operating from Melbourne or Sydney into New Zealand. Despite this, travellers entering Australia from New Zealand do not have to quarantine as long as they’re fully vaccinated and have proof of a negative PCR test within three days of their departure. This, however, will depend on the travel restrictions determined by the health bodies in each specific Australian state or territory.

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