Air New Zealand eyes Hobart-Auckland flights

When New Zealand gets on board with a trans-Tasman 'travel bubble', AirNZ will launch direct flights to Tasmania.

By Chris Chamberlin, March 19 2021
Air New Zealand eyes Hobart-Auckland flights

Air New Zealand plans to add Hobart to its map, once "quarantine-free travel" is possible between Australia and trans-Tasman counterpart.

Currently, only passengers arriving into Australia on designated 'green' flights from NZ can escape the two-week lock-up, although New Zealand mandates quarantine for all international arrivals: even for those travelling from areas with zero cases of COVID-19.

Once those hurdles have been overcome, AirNZ would provide two return flights per week on the route, running on Thursdays and Sundays in each direction.

The schedule aims to provide "the best long weekend options for travellers," says AirNZ CEO Greg Foran.

"We know Tasmanians love to visit New Zealand and this non-stop service to Auckland will make it that much easier to get out into our great outdoors and access our winter playgrounds."

The route would be Hobart International Airport's only regularly-scheduled international flight.

AirNZ plans to use its modern Airbus A320neo jets on the route, which fly in an all-economy configuration.

However, passengers pining for business class can book 'Works Deluxe' fares, which deliver an experience similar to EuroBusiness.

While sat in an economy-style seat, these guests get a guaranteed vacant seat beside them, as well as complimentary catering, checked baggage, entertainment with movies, and more.

ET review: Air New Zealand A320/A321neo Works Deluxe

The long-awaited trans-Tasman bubble

Talk of a trans-Tasman travel bubble has now been circling for almost a year, with several mooted commencement dates having come and gone.

But this week, New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson was positive that borders would open soon.

"I’m very optimistic we’ll sort that out in reasonably short order. I don’t think we’re too far off," he told Radio New Zealand this week.

But, there are "a few issues still to talk through, including what we do in the event that there is an outbreak, how we manage people who aren’t in their home country at that time."

Prior to COVID-19, AirNZ offered regular and seasonal flights to nine Australian airports.

These included Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Norfolk Island, with Hobart to be the airline's 10th Australian destination.

Also read: Quarantine-free Australia, NZ travel "not far off"

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 307

Don’t quite get the reciprocal attraction between these two places, particularly coming into winter, one cold place to another, anyway hope it works for them good to see tassie forging ahead after being a backwater for many years.

There was an interesting TV episode of Travel Guides recently that focussed on visiting Tasmania in the winter. If you're in Australia, you may be able to find it on 9Now (although that'll likely be geo-blocked for those in NZ, unfortunately).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 74

Pent up demand for both I suspect. Plus having lived in AKL for many years, it’s not that bad in Winter and has plenty to do. 

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 328

GBRGB does make a good point. Sure, both places are fascinating both in the summer and winter, but they're relatively similar in many ways. I think the attraction for Kiwis coming over has less to do with tourism but probably more to do with work, or to visit family and relatives. In the reverse direction, Tasmanians are able to go skiing in the southern alps. I think 2 flights a week is sufficient even once Covid is over; Hobart has only like 300,000 residents so as a small city can't offer much demand for more flights than this.

Also, obviously being able to fly via Auckland to the rest of the world either on Air New Zealand or other airlines is another major attraction. That way no need to transit in Melbourne or Sydney as Tasmanians would normally have to.

connecting int to int is far easier at AKL (& NAN) than in SYD, MEL, BNE or anywhere else in OZ. Think Fiji air should also fly to Tassy once or twice a week. Fiji is a good year round destination & flights could connect onto to Asia, LAX, SFO on same airline at NAN or have a stopover in fabulous Fiji.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 328

A Fiji flight from Tassie? Never going to happen. Not enough demand to make it work. A flight via Auckland to connect with the rest of world? Yes, that seems plausible.

What's the difference between AKL & NAN ? A flight via NAN to connect with the rest of the world. From Fiji can fly nonstop to SIN, HKG, TYO, HNL, SFO & LAX & all over the south Pacific ON SAME AIRLINE that fly from Australia. I'd much rather fly Fiji air to LAX than go on Air NZ, plus Fiji air has much newer aircraft (A350), generally much cheaper than air nz & Fiji air has probably the best business class across the Pacific & you can upgrade on just one sector if you want straight to business class from any fare, or 2, 3 or 4 sectors.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 328

There is a HUGE difference between New Zealand and Fiji. There is a special relationship between New Zealand and Australia, whereby citizens of one country are allowed to travel visa-free and remain in the other country indefinitely, not unlike the Schengen agreement in Europe. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of Kiwis resident in Tasmania alone, making a direct connection with New Zealand a viable business strategy for Air New Zealand or an Australian carrier. 

Air New Zealand also offers connections with a number of Pacific Island countries, the USA/Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and China. Meanwhile, Fiji Airlines offers just a small handful of destinations, and the tiny number of passengers that might fly from Hobart or Fiji (which has a very small population) wouldn't make it a viable service.

Your suggestion is similar to picking a relatively unknown, relatively small and random Asian city like I don't know, Phitsanulok in Thailand or Makassar in Indonesia and wondering why there isn't a direct flight to Hobart from these places. Obviously there never will be, because the demand just doesn't exist. You won't even see a flight from Bangkok or Jakarta either. Hobart residents can easily connect via Melbourne to fly to these cities as it is.

Also, what's a "Taswegian"? Never heard that term used before. It's "Tasmanians".

Air NZ fly a good % of Australians to USA & Canada, as do Fiji air, just a smaller %.

No Tasmanian wants to fly to MEL, SYD or BNE to go to USA & go through all the hassle, extra security, changing terminals, while paying more. This is why a HBA/AKL flight, if decent connection at AKL, will be a popular way to get to USA from all over Tassy. Similarly, if Fiji air flew to HBA with good connections at NAN, just like some of their MEL flights & they are cheaper, much cheaper than flying anyone via mainland Australia, people will use it.

A quick look at MEL/NAN/LAX in January ...... 6-25 Jan shows an hour 10 min connection at NAN on way over & 2 hours 30 on way back, a good 2 hours faster than best air nz connections & substantially cheaper than air nz (around $1400/person) + with Fiji, air fly the new A350, NAN/LAX/NAN vs a problematic B787 AKL/LAX/AKL, but the big benefit, is being able to upgrade straight to business class by bidding on airlines website, from any fare, on any sectors, 1, 2, 3 or 4.

ff

perhaps you should look at fiji air route map. go to fijiairways website, under BOOK 4th down.

They fly their own aircraft to SIN, HKG, TYO, LAX, SFO, HNL & many Pacific Island nations. Air NZ flies to YVR that Fiji air don't, but gather many people wanting to get to Canada without paying an arm & a leg in peak season, go via USA on the likes of Fiji air & simply get separate paid or ff tickets to Canada.

Almost forgot fiji air, fly MEL/NAN/SFO with good connections at NAN. 1 hr 45 on way over & 3.30 on way back. Look at 18 dec over & 6 jan back at less then 1/2 the price of air nz & much faster getting there & back.

If Fiji air never flies to HBA it might be cheaper to fly air nz HBA/AKL & then AKL/LAX on Fiji air. Of course AKL/LAX wouldn't be nonstop, but a optional stopover in Fiji is a benefit.

skiing !!!!

Ok to get to Queenstown NZ - ZQN (not to be confused with Queenstown Tassy - 2 VERY different places)  from HBA will require a change of aircraft & terminals in AKL, but many Taswegians will see this as any easier option than getting to OZ ski resorts. Can't compare apples with apples as staying in Queenstown requires a 1 to 3 hour drive everyday to small NZ ski hills. A little bit like staying in Jindabyne, but with some much nicer accommodation options in ZQN, plus it's an international holiday. No GST on airfares & they can buy duty free. Some still love buying duty free stuff, although it's not like ti used to be when you could buy a 40 oz bottle of Bundaberg rum for $5 duty free.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 344

There are plenty of attractions in both locations. Similar weather doesn’t negate the attraction of visiting either place, which area both fabulous destinations.

Any news on when we can expect a travel bubble with Taiwan RoC? And unlike Alan Joyce I am happy to recognise the RoC as a seperate travel destination to the PRC.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2469

Once there's decent news on the prospects of any travel bubble – be that Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Japan etc – we'll share it, as we're all pretty eager to get back in the air again :)

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 328

What about Thailand? Can imagine more demand for Aussies going to Thailand than Taiwan. Australia should negotiate a travel bubble with Thailand to begin in the period from July to September.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 328

Huh? Looks like some Thailand haters on here, based on the two thumbs down my comment received. Bizarre. Why wouldn't a travel bubble with Thailand be a good idea? I think it would be a great start. Later, Vietnam should be added, and also Malaysia, Singapore and at least Bali in Indonesia.

However, for Australians, Thailand and Bali, as well as Singapore, are likely to be of most interest. Although Vietnam is growing as a tourist and even business destination, most traffic between Australia and that country continues to consist of diaspora travellers and international students. Thailand by contrast, sees fewer diaspora travellers or students, and is more tourism and to a lesser extent, business travel as well as transit traffic (mostly Indian subcontinent and former Indochina/Myanmar).

Based on Thailand's 3 stage reopening plan, with pretty much all restrictions to be removed by October 1, I can see this is as a sign that most other countries in the region, including Australia, will be doing similar things. I can't see Thailand being fully reopen by then, while it's neighbors, such as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines remaining closed.

I think Thailand is simply being more open about what they're planning to do. I also think based on Qantas' October 31 restart date, we're likely to see travel to/from Australia commence during that month too, at least to certain destinations.

In other words, October marks the restart of a semblance of normality, though it is entirely possible not all travel will be possible by then, though I expect most Asia-Pacific destinations will reopen without quarantine.

08 Sep 2018

Total posts 19

The Airlines keep fishing with Hobart hoping one thing only that will make these services profitable- incentives. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Mar 2014

Total posts 19

Qantas managed to launch Perth from Hobart last year without subsidies and is now daily year round on the route with up to twice daily flights over summer. Not being able to hub through Melbourne and Sydney for months the airlines were forced to offer direct flights which have remained with correspondingly large cuts to frequencies into Melbourne.

05 Mar 2012

Total posts 12

I've been fortunate enough to take an int'l flight from/to Hobart Airport... It'll be interesting to see if they upgrade the current immigration facilities... I'm not sure how travellers would handle the bus from the terminal/plane, and small hut they currently use with 2 laptops and portable passport scanners.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 344

There is a $20 million upgrade of the Hobart terminal happening as we speak, in anticipation of international services beginning as soon as next month.

05 Mar 2012

Total posts 12

Your comment prompted me to Google... I think you meant $200mil, but it's just a zero difference. :) I had assumed the completion of construction was it, but it sounds like that was just Phase 1, with another $100mil to go. Or has that changed since the article below?

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-09/tas-hobart-airport-to-double-under-multi-million-dollar-plan/10983442

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 344

Actually, no, I was right the first time when I mentioned a $20 million upgrade. The article you're referring to is two years old and unfortunately those plans were paused when COVID-19 struck last year. This article ( https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-19/tas-new-zealand-direct-flights-return-after-20-years/100018456 ), which is just one day old refers to the $20 million upgrade I'm referring to. A larger, multi-million upgrade of the terminal is still to occur at a later date.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 328

Interesting. Although I doubt we'll ever see anything more than Hobart-Auckland flights offered and maybe, if things go really well, a flight to Christchurch or Queenstown. For a couple of flights a week, you don't need anything more than a bare bones international terminal with maybe one small duty free shop, similar to many Pacific island airports. Hobart will never be anything like it's much larger mainland gateway airports.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Apr 2015

Total posts 9

This really is a domestic flight and therefore should be serviced by a domestic airline. 

There have always been more flights from the Australian mainland going to the Island with AirNZ only having one flight from New Zealand on a Sunday. Promotion of the Island by AirNZ has been poor otherwise we would have seen an increase in flights.

Why should Australian tax payers underwrite the domestic flight services of a foreign airline?

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 220

How is Hobart to Auckland a domestic flight? Last I checked Tasmania was part of Australia. 

surely Jetstar could fly Hobart to somewhere like Queenstown (ZQN) NZ once or twice a week, perhaps seasonally to start with. Jetstar already fly OOL, SYD, MEL to ZQN very frequently.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 328

Very different markets. Hobart is a tiny place compared with Sydney, Melbourne and even the Gold Coast. The latter can be considered an extension of Brisbane and the northern rivers region, with 3 million people living within a 100km radius. Gold Coast airport is already kind of a low cost hub for southern Queensland.

That stated, I have said that it's possible a flight connecting Christchurch or Queenstown and Hobart could happen, probably on a once or twice weekly seasonal basis at best. I don't see that happening for a long while to come though.

population of Tassy is around 540,000 with around 1/2 living in Hobart & majority or rest living within 2 hour drive of Hobart (Southwest rule, people will drive 2 hours to save money), far more than population of Wellington(WLG) & Christchurch(CHC). Both WLG & CHC have or had prior to covid, nonstop flights to NAN Fiji a few times a week, connecting with flights to USA etc.

If you are flexible what day of week you travel you fly, much easier to transfer flights at NAN than bloody awful AKL.

You might have to walk 100m in NAN. No changing terminals like at AKL & going through security AGAIN at AKL. Had a very quick look at fares WLG/LAX return in JAN (5-17JAN) & Air NZ around $3-$3.6k & Fiji air around $1.5k. Connection at AKL less than NAN on way over, but tight on air nz for the $3.6k fare.

If connecting at NAN same day, you can actually leave airport at NAN go 200m across the road, get a room at a good 3 star hotel for 3 hours for around $80, have a leisurely swim, snack, beers etc.

Or better still, that huge airfare difference, pays for a lot of 5 star accommodation, meals etc. in Fiji for a few nights or pays for upgrade to business class on A350 with fully flat bed on probably 2 long haul flights NAN/LAX/NAN. If you do upgrade to business class on NAN/LAX, you can use the new Fiji air lounge at NAN, which is excellent.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 328

Never going to happen. Fiji is a very small market, and so is Tasmania. Greater Melbourne alone has 10 times the population of Tasmania. Makes sense for Fiji Airlines to fly there, but not to Hobart. Isn't going to happen, for the same reason Air India will never fly there, and neither will Lufthansa or South African Airways. Not to mention Fiji Airlines offers a very limited network beyond it's hub.

Air New Zealand makes sense to connect Tasmanians to the rest of the world via Auckland, but that's about it.

Eli
Eli

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 102

I love that Australia uses the A330 extensively on domestic runs, but I would hardly call these "big birds"   That distinction sits with the largest plane in a fleet, which for Qantas is still the A380.

Very sad to see 2 QF A380s parked at LAX.   Just sitting there :-( 


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Air New Zealand eyes Hobart-Auckland flights