One-way South Island bubble leaves airlines feeling deflated

Air New Zealand has not yet moved on Australia's invitation for a South Island bubble. Photo:...
Air New Zealand has not yet moved on Australia's invitation for a South Island bubble. Photo: Getty Images
A one way bubble, this is familiar.

The announcement of a one way quarantine-free travel corridor arrived with little aplomb.

From last night passengers travelling from the South Island will be able to fly to Australia, quarantine free. With an announcement from Australia's chief medical officer this weekend, travellers are invited to resume green-flights from some New Zealand airports.

The move allows for the first normal-ish Transtasman services since the pause in July.

The air bridge will only be from airports south of the Cook Strait, and Kiwis will still be required to quarantine on return, it is huge news.

Yet, you can't help but feel the mood is a little deflated.

This time, I'm not sure we can even expect a troupe of bubble dancers to be at Melbourne arrivals.

If you're experiencing some 'deja vu' it might be because the news comes exactly a year after the first one-way bubble touched down.

Few of those passengers on the first Auckland to Sydney flights in October 2020 could have expected that the service would be grounded in favour for South Island links.

It's still one step forward, two weeks in quarantine on the way back.

Although Air New Zealand has welcomed the announcement, it is yet to announce any further services on South Island to Sydney routes.

Air New Zealand's chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty, seemed a little taken off guard this weekend, saying:

"The airline is seeking clarification from the Australian Government on how this will work and will have more to share in the coming days."

The first direct flights between Christchurch, the South Island's main air hub, and Sydney are not on sale until mid November.

The airline did announce the restart of its quarantine-free repatriation services for Australians from Auckland to Sydney from 5 November. Although this will start with just two services a week, the airline intends to ramp up the service

The purpose of these new quarantine free flights was to help Australians who have been trapped on this side of the ditch since the first bubble collapsed in July.

"While the quarantine free travel is only permitted one-way, we are hopeful with the high vaccination rates in New Zealand we will be welcoming Aussies back to our shores before we know it," said Geraghty.

It's hard to say what immediate appetite there will be for Australian travel from the South Island, there's a hope that the invitation might be reciprocated by December.

Although Air New Zealand does not appear to be jumping on the Australian chief medical officer's invitation straight away, there is a cautious optimism.

The uptick in vaccination rates across the country and across the ditch seem to be a much better indicator for when we can expect a two-way bubble to resume and - hopefully - remain afloat.








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