Australia Cheap and easy flights to New Zealand? Do not get too excited, aviation experts say

22:25  06 april  2021
22:25  06 april  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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The New Zealand government will allow Australian travellers to enter the country without mandatory quarantine.

But if you are thinking of racing out to book cheap flights when the trans-Tasman bubble starts on April 19, you might want to wait a while.

High demand, rule changes and rising fare prices might prove to be obstacles.

Here is why the journey may be a struggle.

Fewer flights may drive up prices

Flights will not be as easy to access as before COVID-19, and aviation experts say that could put upward pressure on prices.

The trans-Tasman route is usually serviced by four main airlines — Qantas and Jetstar, Virgin Australia, and Air New Zealand.

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But not every airline is keen to go back there yet.

Virgin Australia will not restart most of its flights across the ditch until October 31.

Instead, it will offer a limited schedule for flights to and from Queenstown from September 18.

In a statement, the airline hinted the cost of cancelling more flights is not a risk it can afford.

"While the airline remains committed to trans-Tasman flying when the market fully recovers, we are mindful of evolving border requirements which add complexity to our business as we push ahead with plans to grow our core domestic Australia operations," a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Qantas and Jetstar will operate up to 122 return flights a week to all pre-coronavirus routes.

Qantas Group says that amounts to 52,000 seats a week and an 83 per cent return to its pre-pandemic capacity.

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Air New Zealand plans to run about 30 flights from Auckland to Australia a day.

A quick search of the cheapest return flights from Sydney to Auckland in the first week of quarantine-free travel:

  • JetStar — $479
  • Air New Zealand — $608
  • Qantas — $658

Aviation expert and chairman of Strategic Aviation Solutions, Neil Hansford, said prices will need to stay low with attractive conditions to entice travellers.

"The prices filed are attractive, I think they know they need to be as full as a state school," he said.

Air Intelligence aviation economist Tony Webber said they may not stay that way.

"Airlines need to repair their bottom line and prices will go up when demand starts to outstrip supply," he said.

Other threats to your holiday

If an outbreak occurs, the rules could change at short notice, meaning flights could be cancelled or you could end up in hotel quarantine when you arrive.

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Air New Zealand notes on its website that, "quarantine-free travel is not guaranteed and is subject to change at short notice, customers travel at their own risk and must be prepared for changes".

You also need to meet the New Zealand government's eligibility criteria for quarantine-free entry into the country.

In the 14 days before the flight, you must:

  • not have had a positive COVID-19 test
  • not be awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
  • not be experiencing a new or worsening cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of sense of smell, or a fever of at least 38 degrees Celsius.

When you arrive in New Zealand you will need to undertake a "screening declaration process", according to Air New Zealand's website.

So, who will take the risk?

Aviation experts agree there is a lot of pent-up demand for travel, which could send travellers across the Tasman.

"All of those who have taken the opportunity to take holidays are looking to go out, and Bali, Thailand and Europe could all be years away," Mr Hansford said.

Mr Webber suspects many people like himself will wait until the COVID-19 vaccinations rollouts have been completed.

"I've got no confidence in travel at the moment," he said.

"The fear of outbreaks is having an effect on confidence in travel."

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