New Zealand’s government has again downplayed any chance of the trans-Tasman bubble resuming when its current suspension ends later this month.
The country’s COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins, said on Wednesday it was “unrealistic” to expect a decision in the next few weeks.
Quarantine-free travel between the two countries started in April this year, but was halted to all of Australia in late July for two months after much of Australia entered lockdown.
Minister Hipkins instead said Kiwis in Australia should attempt to come home via so-called red flights, which involve passengers quarantining in the country’s supervised MIQ accommodation.
It comes as New Zealand’s ministry for business, innovation and employment announced a new red flight will depart NSW next week, with applications for seats required by 5pm on Saturday, 11 September.
Last week, Australian Aviation reported comments by Air New Zealand’s chief executive, Greg Foran, arguing that he thinks the bubble will change when it finally resumes.
“I do think that we [will] open up to Australia but in all likelihood, we may end up operating Australia like we do with many countries when we feel travel is safe,” he said.
“You’re probably going to have to do a pre-departure test. You’re probably going to have to do a test on the way home and you’re probably going to have to do a test when you arrive back in the country.”
The airline also recently announced a boost to its domestic schedule in response to the most recent changes in ‘alert level’ lockdown rules.
The changes will see several services a week added between Christchurch and Dunedin, while the flight time between Wellington-Christchurch has been moved to allow for better connectivity.
The news followed all states in the country – aside from Auckland and Northland –downgrading alert levels in response to decreasing COVID cases.
“While we can’t fly as often as we’d like, we’re doing everything we can to get people safely to where they need to go,” Foran said.