Air New Zealand will begin operating quarantine-free flights between Auckland and Brisbane from January 7.
Australia has lifted quarantine restrictions for New Zealanders entering the country — although they continue to apply to people flying from Australia to New Zealand — prompting AirNZ to operate similar flights to Sydney and Melbourne.
New Zealanders returning to their homeland still need to quarantine for 14 days, pay for quarantine, and register via a government website.
AirNZ currently operates five return flights between Auckland and Brisbane, three of which will be quarantine-free services. The two quarantine flights cannot be booked by people starting their journey in New Zealand.
The airline said passengers on the quarantine-free flights will need to complete a travel declaration stating they have been in New Zealand.
“Flights from Auckland to Brisbane will operate similarly to the flights we have been operating to Sydney and Melbourne – with quarantine-free flights for people whose travel originates in New Zealand, and quarantine flights for people who do not meet the Safe Travel Zone criteria and are required to quarantine on arrival in Australia,’’ Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said.
“Our teams have been working closely with authorities in Australia to ensure all agencies are satisfied processes are in place to confidently accept quarantine-free flights, and we thank customers for their patience while we’ve worked with various agencies in Australia to ensure we can keep everyone safe.”
Brisbane Airport chief Gert-Jan de Graaff said the quarantine-free “safe travel zone” flights between New Zealand and Queensland marked an important step to re-establishing international aviation activity at the airport.
“While only a one-way ‘bubble’, we nonetheless expect these flights will bring families back together and support economic activity between New Zealand and our state,” de Graaff said.
“We look forward to the resumption of two-way travel between our countries soon and will work closely with all relevant bodies to ensure we are ready to go when that happens.”
Air New Zealand earlier this week announced it would convert its non-stop flights to one-stop flights via Honolulu due to higher COVID-19 risk in California.
The changes, due to start January 11, will see cargo aircrew overnight in Honolulu rather than Los Angeles and San Francisco. North American passenger services will be routed via Honolulu from February 2 but travelers will not be able to stay in Hawaii.
The changes mean flights from New Zealand will make a brief stop in Honolulu to change crew before continuing onto Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Aircrew operating into LA and San Francisco will remain airside and operate the return flight to Honolulu where another crew will fly the plane back to New Zealand.
The airline said re-routing North American flights through Honolulu meant aircrew could overnight in a lower risk destination while still maintaining vital connections into North America. Hawaii has a significantly lower COVID infection rate than California.