Travel agent charters Chch quarantine-free flight to Brisbane

People will only be allowed to leave home to do essential work, shop, care for people or exercise...
The flight will depart Christchurch for Brisbane (pictured). Photo: Getty Images
Flights on a single Boeing 737 are planned to take advantage of Australia's offer of one-way quarantine-free travel from the South Island in time for Christmas.

The flight would depart Christchurch for Brisbane, and travel agent Connolly George said they expected most interest to be from stranded Queenslanders and potentially other Australians looking to return home for summer.

The Dunedin travel agency is offering the seats on the single charter flight to Queensland via Australia's quarantine-free travel corridor. With 174 seats it will be the largest charter jet to make use of the green zone since it opened last month.

"We have made a commitment, subject to numbers, for the 3rd December," said Rosann Connolly George, director of Vincent George Travel.

"Although New Zealand passport holders are also welcome," she said.

The conditions of carriage are proof of full vaccination, a negative pre-departure PCR test result and to be in the South Island 14 days before departure.

This makes the timeline even tighter for passengers in the North Island, who would have to be in the South Island by this Friday in order to travel.

While the quarantine-free arrangement has been in place since October, the route has not been viable for commercial carriers.

Air New Zealand said the current South Island travel arrangement provided a "number of operational issues for our airline" and would not be offering one-way flights.

"As our main crew group is based out of Auckland, this is unfortunately not viable," said the airline's chief of customer Leanne Geraghty, following the annoucement of the bubble.

The cost of flying the plane empty one-way has dramatically pushed up the price.

Economy seats are being sold from $1180 one way.

This is steep compared with pre-pandemic prices but appears in line with what some Australian returnees have paid to charter small planes.

Last month Newsroom reported that some travellers were splitting $46,000 fares to charter flights from Queenstown to Brisbane.

Vincent George Travel said it was looking at the ability for onward travel to Western Australia after 14 days under the new Good 2 Go pass border agreement with Queensland.

In October Qantas said its flights were preparing to restart from mid-December 2021, but would only resume flights when a two-way bubble was open.

The Australian airline said they would only be the operator for the service, and flights would have to be booked directly through the agencies.

"We are not making a money-making venture here, it's a humanitarian one," said Connolly George.

While this was the Dunedin agency's first international charter, they were working with Travel Associates Adelaide.

The Australian travel group has helped repatriate 1066 Australians on private charters from South America and beyond, since July 2020.

For the most current government guidelines on quarantine-free travel to Australia, visit covid19.govt.nz

 

 

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