More than 1,000 flights between New Zealand and Australia have been canceled by Air New Zealand, citing the two nations’ current border uncertainty.
Air New Zealand’s chief customer and sales officer, Leanne Geraghty, told local media on November 22, 2021, that the carrier had canceled flights to and from New Zealand due to “recent statements by the New Zealand Government that quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand is unlikely to resume [in 2021].”
Geraghty said: “We’ve had to make the difficult decision to change our schedule.”
He added: “I appreciate how difficult this news will be, but our hands are tied until border restrictions ease, and we receive further clarity from the New Zealand Government.”
The firm warned that huge cancellations would affect at least 20,000 people who had booked flights while hoping that the New Zealand-Australia border would reopen before Christmas.
Travelers who have already booked flights between now and December 31 will be able to request a refund or rebook a journey once operations restart.
While Air New Zealand’s flight schedule has been drastically cut, the company’s flight schedules indicate that it continues to offer a limited number of routes to and from Sydney and Melbourne. These flights, however, are only available to customers who are not subject to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Quarantine-free travel with Australia was first adopted in July 2021 but was then suspended in September 2021 to prevent the spread of the Delta strain in New Zealand. Restrictions were reduced on November 1, 2021, and quarantine-free movement between countries was partially resumed.
However, due to the ongoing increase in new illnesses, a full return to flight service is unlikely until 2022.