Over a year after Australia slammed its border shut to the rest of the world – international travel is finally making a comeback.
Time to dust off the jandals, pick out some new togs and scout out where you’ll be purchasing a chilly bin because travel to New Zealand will recommence later this month.
So, how exactly can Aussies book their trips across the Tasman?
The good news is that two major airlines have embraced the decision, launching flights from April 19 – but one Aussie airline is taking a more cautious approach.
Air New Zealand and Qantas will be flying from April 19 2021, and Virgin’s flights will recommence later in the year.
Here’s everything we know so far about who is flying where and when.
Itching to spend a Qantas or Jetstar flight voucher? Or keen to make a flexible booking?
Well, good news travellers! These two airlines are going to be operating up to 122 return flights per week which will mean more than 52,000 seats available.
The airlines will have flights running to all pre-COVID NZ destinations and are to add in another two routes for good measure.
They’ve also extended their flexible booking policy which allows people to access unlimited flight date changes.
“Qantas’ schedule includes year-round direct flights to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown including direct flights from Brisbane and Melbourne to Queenstown, routes which Qantas traditionally only operated seasonally for the ski season peak,” Qantas said in a statement to 7NEWS.com.au.
“A new daily service from the Gold Coast to Auckland will commence when the bubble opens, marking Qantas’ first-ever international flights from Gold Coast Airport.
“The new Cairns-Auckland route will launch in time for the June long weekend, operating three days per week.
“Flights will initially operate for nine weeks until late July, and Qantas will look to add more flights beyond this period if there is demand.”
Jetstar is set to initially operate flights between Auckland and Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.
In the middle of 2021, the airline is set to resume the rest of its pre-COVID routes.
Schedules will also connect up with Jetstar New Zealand’s domestic network which will open up five extra destinations there.
“Qantas has also today extended its “Fly Flexible” policy, offering customers who book flights before 31 July 2021 added flexibility with unlimited fee-free date changes when travelling before 28 February 2022,” Qantas said.
“Jetstar offers the option of purchasing FareCredit on bookings which allow passengers to cancel flights for any reason.”
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand is also embracing the announcement and from April 19 will be bringing international travel back.
“Air New Zealand will be ramping up flights between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown and eight of its Australian ports,” the airline said in a statement to 7NEWS.com.au.
The company’s international flexibility policy has also been recently extended.
This is for customers who have flights scheduled to depart before 11.59pm on December 31 this year.
They will be given the “ability to opt into credit or make a change to the date or time of the flight with change fees waived (fare difference may still apply)“.
The airline gave a detailed look at its schedule, including destinations and variations in start dates.
Auckland flights to Brisbane, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Sydney will commence from the April 19 date.
This will be for Perth as well, subject to approval.
Flights between Auckland and Adelaide will launch on May 5.
Auckland to Sunshine Coast flights will start from June 28 and Cairns from June 29.
A date was not yet available for Hobart.
Wellington flights will commence on April 19 to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
As for Christchurch, the same three locations will launch flights on that date and Christchurch to Gold Coast will begin on April 24.
Queenstown flights to Melbourne and Sydney start on April 19, with flights to Brisbane starting May 5.
“Customers will be required to wear masks during travel to and from Australia and screening questions will be asked at check-in,” Air New Zealand said.
Virgin Australia has decided to take a different approach when it comes to the travel bubble.
The airline called the announcement a step in the right direction but did reveal that it had chosen not to start flights immediately.
“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,” Virgin said.
“For this reason, we have suspended the sale of most New Zealand services until 31 October 2021.
“A limited schedule for flights to and from Queenstown will remain available for booking from 18 September 2021.
“We are working with Air New Zealand to provide impacted customers with alternative options and will be contacting them directly.
“In all cases, options to select new travel dates or obtain a refund to the original form of payment are being made available.”
During NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about the bubble, she said she was not concerned about price gouging.
“Airlines are going to make their own decision around when they choose to restart,” she said.
“Obviously, we know two major airlines are very keen to start offering tickets to Australians and New Zealanders.
“And so I believe that that demand should be well met by those who will be operating.”