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Australia-NZ travel bubble: Airlines to boost services from 19 April

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced 19 April as the start date for the long-awaited Australia-New Zealand travel bubble. From that day, travellers on both sides of the ditch will be able to visit each other quarantine-free – subject to no further COVID outbreaks, of course. Should an outbreak occur, it’s likely some temporary travel restrictions will be imposed.

In response to today’s news, Qantas and Jetstar have announced they will restart flying to all pre-COVID destinations in New Zealand. From 19 April, Qantas and Jetstar will initially operate up to 122 return flights per week across the Tasman on 15 routes, offering more than 52,000 seats each week.

Qantas’ schedule includes year-round direct flights to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown including direct flights from Brisbane and Melbourne to Queenstown, routes which Qantas traditionally only operated for the ski season peak.

A new daily service from the Gold Coast to Auckland will commence when the bubble opens, marking Qantas’ first ever international flights from Gold Coast Airport.

A new Cairns-Auckland route will launch in time for the June long weekend, operating three days per week. Flights will initially operate for nine weeks until late July, and Qantas will look to add more flights beyond this period if there is demand.

Jetstar will initially operate to Auckland from Melbourne, Gold Coast and Sydney, with schedules of both airlines connecting on to Jetstar’s New Zealand domestic network.

Jetstar will resume flights on the remainder of its pre-COVID routes from the middle of the year.

Qantas has also today extended its “Fly Flexible” policy, offering customers who book flights before 31 July 2021 added flexibility with unlimited fee free date changes when travelling before 28 February 2022. Jetstar offers the option of purchasing FareCredit on bookings which allow passengers to cancel flights for any reason.

Qantas Frequent Flyer will boost the number of Classic Flight Reward seats for frequent flyers, making all seats in all cabins across Qantas and Jetstar flights for the first three days available as a Classic Flight redemption. For the remainder of 2021, frequent flyers will also enjoy access to 50 per cent more Classic Flight Reward seats on Qantas’ trans-Tasman routes. Classic Flight Reward bookings made by 30 April 2021 for travel to 28 Feb 2022 can also be cancelled for free, with full refunds.

From 19 April, Air New Zealand will also be ramping up flights between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown and its main Australian ports.

Air New Zealand’s international flexibility policy was recently extended so customers with flights scheduled to depart before 11:59pm on 31 December 2021 have the ability to opt into credit or make a change to the date or time of the flight with change fees waived (fare difference may still apply).

Virgin Australia, whose international flights remain suspended, has issued a statement saying it looks forward to re-entering the Trans-Tasman market later this year.

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