Australia-New Zealand travel not until March 2021 or later

Don't expect travel between Australia and New Zealand in 2020, suggests AirNZ CEO Greg Foran.

By David Flynn, September 21 2020
Australia-New Zealand travel not until March 2021 or later

Australians hoping for a summer holiday in New Zealand to see family and friends will need to think again.

Quarantine-free travel between the two neighbours is unlikely to resume for at least another six months, according to the head of New Zealand’s biggest airline.

“I certainly do not believe we will see anything across the Tasman this calendar year,” Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran told The Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s hard to believe it would be before March next year, and could well be longer.”

“If it comes back quicker, we’re going to pop some champagne.”

More delays for the bubble

The prospect of a trans-Tasman travel bubble gained momentum in May 2020 as the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand planned a pathway to reopening their respective borders to create a COVID-safe air corridor.

However, subsequent 'second wave' flare-ups in Melbourne and Auckland have indicated the stubborn resilience of the coronavirus: and even if a vaccine arrives at the start of 2021, Foran said its expected low efficacy rate - which might only be 50% – plus the chance of reinfection all push a restart of Australia-New Zealand travel even further back.

Australia and New Zealand remain each other’s number one travel destination: 2019 saw some 2.6 million residents of each country jetting back and forth across the Tasman, according to Stats NZ.

In the short term, Air New Zealand's domestic capacity is back to almost 85% of pre-COVID levels, and Foran thinks it could reach 90-100% by December as Kiwis explore their own backyard rather than jet overseas.

"There’s pent up demand," Foran said. "People are cabin crazy and they want to get out."

Domestic strength

Australia's domestic recovery continues to be hampered by state border closures – New Zealand, lacking states, has just local and national governments – which see Qantas still flying at around 20% of pre-COVID domestic capacity.

This has led Qantas CEO Alan Joyce to lead the call for a “national framework” on state border closures be based on facts and, medical advice and defined standards, rather than politics.

The alternative, he claims, is a continuation of inconsistency and confusion which is choking not just airlines and tourism but the country's broader economic recovery.

“Nobody has an issue with what happened with Victoria – those borders needed to be closed,” Joyce said last month. However, he said “we still don’t understand why states with zero cases for a long time have borders closed to states with zero cases.”

“That doesn’t seem to make any medical sense, or match any (medical) advice that we’ve seen. Surely, these decisions should be based on the facts, the health advice, and the level of cases that we’re seeing around the various states.”

Read more: Qantas CEO calls out "politics" on domestic border closures

Additional material by Bloomberg

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

07 May 2020

Total posts 62

No surprise there. Even then, there is no clear way by which either Aus or NZ will open up to travelling without quarantine because neither country has elaborated any plan as to how to do this. The current strategies may aggressively suppress viral transmission, but they also mean that there is no such hope of travel restrictions being lifted. Perhaps the vaccine in shining armour will save the day. Enjoy the fantasy.  

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 195

Its not about Australia/NZ travel bubble, its about Australia, NZ and South Pacific Island travel bubble. Whilst Australia has ongoing community transmissions, travel boarders between NZ and Australia can't open, as NZ is the staging point for South Pacific islands which are currently COVID19 free. Most smaller South Pacific island nations don't have the health infrastructure to cope with a COVID19 outbreak.

There is no guarantee that a vaccine will be effective for all people, factor in the time it will take to roll out a vaccine globally and how many people will refuse vaccination. Epidemiologists and virologist are now seeing more cases of SARS-cov-2 virus having incubation periods up to 28 Days, which has happened in NZ recently at the boarder.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 63

New Zealand didn't open or outline any real strategy to open their borders* to any of the Covid-free Pacific nations during their 100+ days of also being Covid free despite repeated requests verging on begging from many of those Pacific islands that are being crushed into the dirt economically.

Nor was there or has there been any meaningful discussion about how to do so between Covid-free states in Australia and NZ, even though it was suggested the bubble could go forward on a state by state basis.

All this suggests is that neither country is prepared or willing to start having real conversations about how to live with this virus, presumably because both are continuing to put all their eggs in the vaccine basket.

As much as I hope they're right about that vaccine, I'd rather they start preparing meaningfully to be wrong. 

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 195

There are plans in place for boarder free travel between Australia and NZ but the problem is, Australia has a 'federal' style of government where states make their decisions and NZ has 'central' style of government, makes it harder to establish a Australia/NZ travel bubble. from NZ's point of view, Australia as a country, needs to have 28 days of no new community transmissions for a travel bubble to work. Both prime ministers have regular discussions on a travel bubble but any discussions on have an open COV19 free boarder is still some time away.

15 Aug 2018

Total posts 22

I’m going to Sweden I think. 

The only ones with their heads screwed in right. 

Just need an exit visa from the Great Southern Soviet Union. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

Ted have you kept track of Sweden’s daily cases: ten times that of Australia with half of the population and the same social restrictions as most of Australia such as SA, WA, Qld, NT and ACT, and parts of NSW. Have fun when you get there.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 63

And yet, deaths at or nearly zero every day.

Almost as if they've realised that by protecting the most vulnerable they can save lives while realistically accepting that this virus is not going away. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

Flying most of Australia has zero or near zero deaths every day. So most of Australia agrees but with 1/20th of the cases and therefore health impact. Obsessing about deaths hides the chronic conditions that go with COVID so 20 times Sweden’s ‘success’ rate sounds good to me.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 63

Pleased for you mate; glad this strategy works for you.

As someone whose family and ageing parents are on the other side of the world, it doesn’t for me. 

We all have to make decisions and balance the risks. However the Australian government refuses to allow grown adults to do that on our own. This black and white approach just doesn’t reflect the grey reality.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

Flying I fully agree with you on being able to leave. Balancing the risks is what it is about and you should be able to do it elsewhere as much as here.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

Ted I see today Sweden has had 1200 cases and five deaths since Friday and talking of increasing restrictions in Stockholm. A bit like Melbourne perhaps.

11 Jul 2020

Total posts 55

I think it will all depend when the NZ and Australian governments give the green light and open the international borders between our 2 countries. Everyone else is just speculating until this is announced.

07 May 2020

Total posts 62

Sweden is now doing pretty well. Over the past month their daily tally of known infections is running anywhere between 100 to 300. Yes. But their daily death rate only between 0 to 5 and declining. The fact is that someone can only die once, be it from an illness or an unfortunate car accident. So Sweden will move on very well regardless of how the virus spreads. That's life.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

GoRobin it is not about deaths it is about chronic illnesses due to a very infectious disease and the strain on the health system. This is in a country with much the same restrictions as much of Australia (social distancing limits on crowds etc.) , with a 1/20th per capita daily infection rate. Yes Sweden may move on very well but Australia seems to be moving on better.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 63

Hi, Swedish-Australian here, so colour me biased but I'm going to point out two big points here:

1) In Sweden, the so-called "restrictions" you're referring to are recommendations. The few limits that exist as "rules" pertain only to major social gatherings. Sure, Swedes as a whole follow those recommendations, but the difference between a "restriction" that can be criminally enforced versus a recommendation matters. In one country, you have free agency to make decisions; in the other, you can be arrested for doing so. 

2) Sweden's borders are open, both internally and internationally. If you live in a state or territory in Australia and your entire life and family exists in that bubble (or within a 5-km radius in the case of Melbourne), great; otherwise, the importance of this difference cannot be overstated.

3) Swedes are treated like adults. The claim in Australia that Australians have to be treated like children because they act like children doesn't hold any water; plenty of Swedes refuse to follow those recommendations and they pose a risk to the strategy. Still, the government accepts that total compliance isn't possible and works to mitigate that risk, rather than try to eliminate it, as elimination of risk isn't possible... much like the virus itself. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

Flying where I am in Australia there is negligible policing (and no shortage of crowded bars etc) as there have been no cases in three months and I think that observation applies to most of Australia. If needed the policing will ramp up. In the part of Australia I live in I can go to four states or territories, covering geographically most of Australia so for me the bubble is quite big. My point is there is a bit of generalising and hyperbole happening here.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 63

That’s nice for you; must be nice to have those options. 

It’s not the case for many of us, however, in which case the consequences are hardly hyperbolic. However, I can imagine that for someone in your position who isn’t living through them, perhaps they seem so. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

I lived through them three months ago, and happy to do so again if need be, just to correct the record, as did the rest of the country. My point is that it isn’t nation wide at the moment (more city wide) which what my reference to hyperbole was about.

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 80

Patrick deaths and chronic illness in the under 60 category is what counts. You cannot stop and mortgage peoples/countries futures to protect the old and weak. You need to understand the big picture and stop trying to justify rediculous restrictions as being the solution. Just stay home if you dont like it and let the rest of us get on with our lives.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

P so for the over 60s are you suggesting some way to recognise them, say a sign they have to wear. Maybe special accommodation for them. Quite a logistical job for 20% of the population, but hang on it has been tried before.

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 80

I think people know their own age and health status. We don't need legislation or rules made by bureaucrats and politicians to tell us how to live. Responsibilities of politicians, press and scientific community is to make recommendations but let individuals make their own decisions always provided they dont intentionally or recklessly put others at risk.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

P I think you answered your own question. Most outbreaks are due to unintentional actions. How you deal with them without regulations as their unintended actions lead to the rest of us getting sick regardless of age.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 195

 GoRobin - Its not about deaths as the SARS-cov-2 virus is no a killer virus and like with other respiratory viruses, it is a disruptive virus that disrupts lives, businesses, overloads health care infrastructure and a country's economy due to its long incubation period between 4-28 days and is infectious without its human host showing any systems, which makes establishing travel bubbles difficult.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 192

Remind me since when a commercial company CEO’s predictions can be considered as gospel for what political decisions will occur based on economic and health advice?

Sure, many people should take notice of what a large transport company thinks, but I think it’s more of a tail trying to wag the dog rather than vice versa.

Not sure how keen Qantas is participating in the travel bubble with NZ and pacific islands, considering their energies is more focussed on reviving the domestic travel in Oz, which is far more profitable than the International arm any day before the pandemic. Hence if AJ wasn’t commenting much on international travel bubble, that’s why.

07 May 2020

Total posts 62

patrickk...it's all nonsense about chronic long term effects from covid. It's only been 7 months since this virus has been around so you are just spinning a yarn about long term effects. 7 months is hardly long term. It's all about deaths as that is the only really quantifiable no. Reporting daily infections in meaningless unless the complete population is tested every day. So Sweden has 300 or more reported infections a day. The actual number in reality could be much higher. But only 0 to 5 deaths a day is an actual no. It doesn't require a genius to figure this out. Just common sense.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

Go Robin there is no shortage of data on COVID chronic effects: here is one from the college of GPs, google will find you many more.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 195

 GoRobin - There is going evidence there that are people who have recovered from a SARS-cov-2 infection are having on going health effects like respiratory issues, fatigue, incidents long term loss of smell and/or taste, etc. 

11 Jul 2020

Total posts 55

Patrickk you are flogging a dead horse when it comes to GoRobin. He either enjoys the constant arguing and debating or he lives in an alternative universe to you and and I and most sensible people. 

He believes covid-19 is a hoax or not as deadly and or without the possibility of unknown long term health issues for some people who become covid-19 positive. 

He is in denial and the media and our best scientists are all spining hype and it's really a conspiracy when it comes to covid-19. 

 So you cannot win the argument with someone who is in total denial of the facts.

I personally think all our boarders within Australia will open mid to late October as the numbers are reducing. NZ will not happen until early 2021 in my opinion. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

Fully agree on all counts...

07 May 2020

Total posts 62

Ozspeke777...Dead? Indeed not. I had covid in Germany back in May. Still alive and very well and no symptoms and none of the fictional long term effects that some are promoting. Newspaper headline stories like patrickk are promoting are just that, spin. There is zero evidence of long term effects for these reasons: 1. The virus has not been infecting anyone for the long term..2. There is no scientific study demonstrating that a statistically relevant number of people have been infected and had long term detrimental effects. 3. There are no peer reviewed scientific studies demonstrating that this is the case. Not everyone is a fool just believing in Headline News Spin as scientific evidence.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

Go Robin the link I sent is to medical evidence and The Lancet has no shortage of peer reviewed studies. Straws are being clutched methinks.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

GoRobin the bugs infection may not be long term but the effects certainly are. This is according to medical experts not newspaper headlines.

07 May 2020

Total posts 62

patrickk...no long term medical studies to show. Just News Headline spin. Sorry. You can say what you like because this is an open blog but you can't direct to any credible scientific study that clearly demonstrates that people who have been infected by this virus are suffering from chronic long term effects.

Eac
Eac

24 Sep 2020

Total posts 1

Hi there, I am portuguese (Portugal, Europe, a really tiny country near Spain) so this isn't really my business, but I am following all of this travel discussion because, I get married next year in July 2021, and I would love to go to NZ... It really seems unlikely though. 

In my humble opinion, the world leaders are nuts if they think closing down everything is going to solve anything. Again, I am not a doctor, but a virus doesn't go away that easy. And who is really going to believe in a vaccine that was created in less than a year? Countries shouldn't really hid from the problem, but face it with cientific measures to reduce its impact.

I travelled this Summer, from Portugal to Greece, had the nicest holidays ever, guess what? Very little people, no queues, lots of parking spaces. People called me crazy when I said... "Oh I'm still going abroad, I am allowed so I'll go". I was tested there and "negative", kept my 17 days of holidays in Greek lands and islands, always filling forms and facing temperature screenings. We have to live our lives, responsibly off course, but we have to live them. 

It's insane this descrimination that came from Covid-19, haven't you noticed? "Oh those chinese", "Oh those Italians", "Oh those Spanish people"... And after a couple of months we are all on the same boat... but still a lot of discrimination.

Extreme measures are never very likely to work out. History did taught us that, or so I thought. Travel, off course!! Why not? With tests before departures, and maybe with another on arrival, why not? I believe testing like this is much cheaper that backing up a completely frozen economy.  

See the numbers, numbers of deaths, whatever numbers you want. Compare them to the numbers of the common flu, and other diseases. They are not that scary. The media make them seem very scary because they just don't stop talking about them. A wise man said once "If I don't watch TV an am not informed, but if I do watch TV I am misinformed". We need less TV, less drama and start living our lives for once. I'm with Sweden, they didn't make a fuss over this virus, they faced it with measures and recomendations, trully in a democratic way if you think of it. They trusted their own people to judge and adapt to the situation. They had problems? Sure they did. But so did the rest of the world. 

And "no man is an island", is not as if we can live without each other (globally), is not as if we will accept forever these closed borders, is not as if humanity, in the 21st century will ever accept to live in a cage. 

02 Jul 2020

Total posts 16

Hi Eac - agree on all counts.

Here in the UK they have started paying people to be tested, so determined are they to get those numbers up - they have to support the spin and justify their new rules that will last 6 months. Apparently the virus suddenly becomes dangerous in  a pub after 10 pm. It can't spread between 6 people but definitely can if there are 7. A piece of fabric strapped across your mouth (that you have touched and worn days in a row) stops the virus in it's tracks of course...

Social media has become a minefield. You have people turning on each other - citing those "stupid people" who wont obey the rules and it's all their fault, or the "stupid people" who don't realise this is a hoax and are going along blindly - camps at both extremes are angry and resentful. To me, that is the worst thing that has come out of this. I caught a cab the other day and the driver spent the twenty minutes ranting about the idiots who wont obey the rules or wear masks or stay home,  and he wishes we were more like China because at least they weld people into their houses if they don't behave. The next day, he wasn't able to pick me up so he sent his mate - his mate said to me when I jumped in the car "I'm not wearing  a mask, I don't like them" and then proceeded to rave about how stupid the rules are. It's like everyone has to state their position for the record and it's hard not to feel the aggression.

Victoria's new legislation giving police extra powers to arrest you without charge and detain you without cause should set alarm bells ringing for everyone. So should WA's forced injection clause where they  have the power to physically detain an unwilling person and inject them if it is deemed for their or the community's, benefit. It is easy to feel as though Australians are suddenly waking up to find themselves on the wrong side of the Berlin wall. 

A friend of mine recently visited Portugal from the UK - announced the day before he left that it will be kept on the safe  list and so he would not have to quarantine when he returned (as he cannot afford a further 2 weeks off work he was ready to cancel the trip if they have done otherwise). Two days in, they changed their mind and mandated two weeks isolation upon return - at least it is not forced hotel quarantine like Australia, but still.

Many I speak to are now feeling the inconsistency of all of this and it is amazing how many people are starting to doubt that there even is a virus, or certainly that it poses the dangers they have been claiming. So those who are not angry, are unsettled and mistrustful. The determination of governments to bring their economies to their knees is extraordinary. 

I agree we are not to accept living in a cage, but there are many who will line up for the vaccine as their savior when it comes as they are so desperate to get out of their houses and worn down by restrictions and economic stress - and the vaccine has been rushed, not properly tested, the companies making it have been granted no liability for adverse reaction or injury - so I'm not sure that isn't just another kind of cage. They need to learn to live with the virus and those who feel unsafe can choose to remain out of society. But I think they call  that personal responsibility and that doesnt seem to be popular.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

Hi Matlilda full agree particularly on personal responsibility not being popular as demostated y so many people not being personally responsible and pass the bug onto others. then a lockdowns etc. Sydney taxi driver drove fro 8 days while positive. Now that is an issue of a complete lack of personal responsibility.  As for vaccines I will only take one that has been properly tested and there are a few stage three trials with thousands of people over six months. So not sure which vaccine you suggest as been rushed (and I am sure there are some) but I certainly wont be taking it.

02 Jul 2020

Total posts 16

Hi Patrick,

The Astra Zeneca trials (the Oxford vaccine) have bypassed the animal testing stage (and dont get me wrong, I HATE the whole concept of animal testing but still) - that is something that has not been bypassed before. They  went straight to human trials and legislation allowing it to be rushed through has been passed, which is why we are at stage 3 trials now. The usual period of vaccine development is a decade or so, and while I realise that they are working on previous work regarding other SARS viruses, the point remains. That is the vaccine that the Australian government has specifically applied for. Pharma companies have also been given immunity from any liability regarding adverse reaction or injury from their vaccines. Just saying. 

 I dont like vaccines, I think they make healthy people sick and not the other way around but I can take a position of responsibility regarding my health - for example, I fell on some blue metal  and had to have it removed at the hospital and be stitched up, a tetanus shot was offered and given. For me, the risk of tetanus at that time outweighed my concern about a vaccine and it was perfectly reasonable to get it. But at any other time I dont see the point in a tetanus shot if Im at no or low risk of tetanus. The problem I have with this covid vaccine is that those who are not at risk or don't want it may still be made/bullied to have it. There is an emotional  element to it I am wary of - people being so worn down they will accept anything and if they don't their life will be made difficult.

The statistics dont support this lock down. The virus has a 99% recovery rate. Even if you are worried about certain citizens causing problems (like your taxi driver you mentioned), none of it justifies the extreme measures we have seen so far, especially in Victoria. That is just my opinion but it happens that it is also the opinions of several medical and legal professionals as well as one prominent economist who just resigned so he could speak freely on the issue. This started as two weeks, and here we all still are. 

Anyway, sorry if this came over as a rant - not intentional, i just take a long time explaining myself. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

Matilda  not sure your definition of recovery is. Do it mean a lack of deaths and 1-3% (is more accurate) is still a lot of people on 1,000 per day. But an awful lot more have longer term chronic effects: here . Could be 10-20%. Economists are not the best on chronic illnesses and what they do to economies.  The issue with with UK where you are is that Boris dithered and continues to dither and so there are more and more lockdows, while here is Australia there is only one (in one city) at the moment. The SE Qld one was lifted in the last few days. Much prefer 10s of cases per day than thousands, and happy to be locked down if there as spurt in cases where I am. . As you said the animal trials for Astra Zeneca happened some time back, but that is one: the Qld Uni has had animal trials, and they are all based on more than 10 years research already completed. As for vaccines I regularly line up and the flu vaccine for me has worked (no bronchitis complications in years) and brought up on farm tetanus shots go without saying as lockjaw is not the best disease to get, nor is whooping cough another favorite of the anti vaccers.

02 Jul 2020

Total posts 16

Ah well, have to say I'll take a good dose of whooping cough at the right age than the vaccine any day, but that is just me. Have the disease between 2 and 10 yrs and you are generally ok. I did however, have chicken pox when I was 35 - that  wasn't fun, sickest I've ever been in my life. Childhood diseases are best contracted in childhood....

I was citing Australian news (I am an Aussie) actually - of course economists are not authorities on infectious diseases, but the guy who worked for the Victorian department of Finance and Treasury is not an idiot and had some  excellent observations on the statistics available, and all related to the financial fallout. I'm sure you'd be aware that several QC's and barristers have spoken their objections to Dan Andrews' new legislation regarding police power (and actually, I don't think they  even have to BE police to arrest you, the way it is worded). So I wasn't implying they were disease experts, just that in their legal capacity they are alarmed at the drastic measures as well they should be. 

In the Uk  Boris has pontificated and dithered like nothing else - I expected more of him than to lock everyone down and panic but then the place has had its share of deaths. Maybe I am harsh but I don't think 90 year old's dying in nursing homes is particularly newsworthy, and the general public have accepted that the death rates have been largely inflated anyway (as in, people dying with Covid rather than of it). UK is regrettably a small land mass with a huge population so it isnt the same as Australia in any way. Plus, Australians like being told what to do way more than the Brits which is what is giving Boris a hard time now.

Are Australia's interstate borders not still closed? I was under the impression they were. If they are closed, Im not sure I would consider that only one lock down - that is a whole bunch of lock down. My husband tells me life feels normal until you think about leaving the state....

None of which is directly on topic to  the article title and if we keep rabitting on like this we will be cautioned for being off topic. I'm out, its after midnight here. G'night.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1053

Matilda I can now travel to fours states and territories covering most of the country. WA and Tassie are still a no no and regional Victoria next week or the week after I think. Lockdown can be state of mind but being able to go to most the place is fine by me, ad full agree with the police powers the the state premiers including Gladdys are giving to their cops being over the top. Not to mention border forces powers. The issue is not of 90 year old dieing in nursing home but the federal government neglect on that is close to criminal; it is 30 year olds on ventilators (who recover 'sort of') that wreck economies.

02 Jul 2020

Total posts 16

Morning Patrick - interesting, I hadn't realised other state borders were open as I'm a bit behind the Aussie times here. My husband is currently working in Tasmania and I have a daughter in Melbourne so obviously the filtered news I'm getting from them is a little dismal. 

Tasmania do tend to think of themselves as a country independent of everyone else (which they are not, clearly - the rest of Australia has always carried them economically) I  was never surprised that they remain closed. The commentary from the locals would be of support too - they have always had an island mentality and would probably believe there would be no covid there if not for "those bloody mainlanders", so there will be no public push from the inside to open up I wouldn't think. 

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 80

Hi Eac. Your thinking is far to progressive for A & NZ. Recommend you go somewhere else. Europe has so much more to offer.


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