South Island-Aust bubble open but Air NZ says operation ‘not viable’ – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: October 21, 2021 at 11:04 pm

Green channel flights from the South Island across the Tasman will be delayed for the foreseeable future because of the Australian Governments Covid-19 quarantine requirements affecting Air New Zealand crew.

Last week the Australian government announced quarantine-free travel from New Zealand's South Island would resume from October 20 for double vaccinated people who had not been in the North Island for two weeks.

However, Air New Zealand tells Newsroom most of its crew are based out of Auckland, which means the Australian government's crew quarantine requirement is not viable for the airline.

Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty says as a result, only red-zone flights which require passengers to quarantine for 14 days from Auckland are flying to Australia.

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While we would love to be able to operate quarantine-free flights out of Christchurch, there are a number of operational issues for our airline. The Australian government has stated that our crew need to have been in the South Island for the preceding 14 days before quarantine-free flying. As our main crew group is based out of Auckland, this is unfortunately not viable, Geraghty says.

For our Aussie neighbours who have been stuck in Aotearoa for the past few months, we are operating two flights per week from Auckland to Sydney from November 5, and from December 1 these services will ramp up to six flights per week. Customers in the South Island are able to transit in Auckland and connect with these services.

David White/Stuff

Air New Zealand has confirmed only red-zone flights which require passengers to quarantine for 14 days from Auckland are flying to Australia due to crew quarantine requirements.

The airline says it is seeking clarification from the Australian government.

While there is a great degree of uncertainty at the moment, we look forward to gaining clarity on when we can get customers back in the air and deliver our world-renowned customer service.

But stranded Australians like LaToya Hamiora have been refreshing Air New Zealands website every day since the announcement and have had radio silence from the airline.

I was on the Air New Zealand website til like 1am because they said they were going to release some flights from the South Island to Sydney and Victoria. And nothing there was no update on the website, Hamiora says.

Debbie Jamieson/Stuff

Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty (file photo).

The Melbourne-based Kiwi came to visit her family, whom she hadnt seen for three years, in Christchurch three months ago.

I'm very fortunate that my parents are here. And I just feel for all those other Australians trying to get back.

Shes paid thousands in rent and bills for her Melbourne apartment no one has lived in for the time she has been stranded in New Zealand.

Hamiora has had her flights cancelled three times and each time the price has increased, reaching about $1000 for a one-way ticket.

Kiwi Kara Hunt and her Australian husband, along with her 5-year-old and 11-year-old children, were hoping to have moved into their Brisbane apartment by now.

But the family, who sold their house in New Zealand, are living out of suitcases in Invercargill while paying rent in Brisbane for weeks due to the ongoing uncertainty of when they can migrate to Australia and get on with their lives.

I don't know the politics of it all but it's absolutely awful. You don't know where you stand. Should we put the kids into school? How long do we have to stay here?

I'm extremely anxious because the longer we wait, there's the possibility that it will be too late. We know how quickly Delta can move. It takes one case to move like wildfire. So if you don't take the opportunity to take even a few people over, I'm scared it'll be too late.

Hunt says she spends her days refreshing Air New Zealand's website every half an hour for an update.

She says others living in limbo have set up Facebook pages and are considering splurging thousands of dollars on chartered flights to Australia.

The New Zealand Government suspended quarantine-free travel with Australia in September for a further eight weeks due to the Delta outbreaks and will review this decision mid-to-late November.

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South Island-Aust bubble open but Air NZ says operation 'not viable' - Stuff.co.nz

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