Qantas wants travel to NZ to be just like travel within Australia

By David Flynn, March 15 2017
Qantas wants travel to NZ to be just like travel within Australia

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has renewed the push for 'seamless' travel between Australia and New Zealand which would make crossing the Tasman no different to crossing into another Aussie state.

No passports, no immigration or customs checks – just zip across the ditch for a day or two of business or a long weekend getaway.

“We think that Australia-New Zealand should have as seamless access as possible" Joyce told a meeting of the Trans-Tasman Business Circle in Wellington yesterday.

"There’s no reason why the travel between the two countries should be not like travel within New Zealand. It should be the same."

Joyce affirmed that "it would make it easier for business travellers and it would make tourism a lot easier," while admitting there's also an upside for Qantas: New Zealand flights could depart from domestic rather than international airports.

"From an infrastructure perspective what it does is improve our efficiency dramatically because we can use domestic terminals."

Yes, this could mean an end to enjoying the Qantas first class lounge at Sydney or Melbourne before your pond-hop. It could also mean Qantas might not need to update its tired Auckland international lounge, if flights back to Australia were to instead depart from Auckland's domestic terminal.

Both the Australian and New Zealand governments have done plenty of talking about removing the trans-Tasman borders, although their most recent move was to propose trialing a cloud passport which would replace physical passports with digital passenger information and biometric data stored on government servers for access by border agencies.

And in 2009, after two years of discussions, plans were set up – but never enacted – to trial a clearance system similar to that used in Europe across European Union countries

Joyce's comments come a week after Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand took the lead in forming airline industry group Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) to lobby the governments and private airport operators for lower taxes and fees – which A4ANZ claims to make up 40 per cent of an average airfare – along with greater investment in infrastructure and other airline-friendly efficiencies.

What's your take on the notion of 'border-free' travel between Australia and New Zealand? Share your thoughts with other AusBT readers below.


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.

Its all about the border staff. Do you seriously imagine they would support the demise of half of their number.  Think turkeys and Thanksgiving.

05 May 2016

Total posts 631

No international lounge access would make status runs across to NZ less attractive and increase the attractiveness of runs within Australia.

06 Jan 2015

Total posts 66

And what proportion of trans tasman flyers are completing status runs? I'd suggest less than 0.1%.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 141

Shouldn't the Airlines for Australia and New Zealand acronym be A4ANZ? ;)

28 Dec 2016

Total posts 71

Nah who cares about Australia

15 Mar 2017

Total posts 15

anyone who supports this clearly has not travelled out of the tin shed which is Auckland Domestic. As a whole Auckland Airport needs a dramatic overhaul

11 Jul 2016

Total posts 8

Very sensible, and well overdue.

05 Jan 2014

Total posts 25

what about the international airlines with 5th freedom flights? like EK and SQ? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 468

They would still depart from international terminals.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 136

It needs someone in government on both sides to be sensible, rather than dramatic. Lots of decisions like these are placed in the "too hard" basket, not sure why. They can even provide ANZ visas where even overseas visitors can travel between countries with just one visa (so they can still show their aussie visa when departing to NZ and the other way around).

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Aug 2013

Total posts 139

Australia New Zealand Schengen now!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

I would assume EK, SQ, LA would be exempt from the policy which would be in QF and Air NZ's favour as it would probably pull business away from the international airlines. It'd be a great system if they work it out properly.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2011

Total posts 148

I'd much rather be able to board at trans tasman flight in Domestic fashion than International. Lounges are great, but so is turning up 30mins at the airport before a flight, as boarding is about to begin. 

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 79

Totally agree. I'd rather do away with passports and be able to show up 30mins prior to departure. Give me kiosks and bag drop anytime. NZ there would still be lounges and I do like AKL/WLG/CHC lounges but QF - I guess would be interesting to see if they would add lounges to accommodate international flights but also would allow JQ domestic pax (QF status/Q club) and say EK/QR/AA etc international connecting flight pax a domestic lounge. Maybe include paid lounge access for $$.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 476

Auckland domestic is as bad as Newark. 

There used to be a Qantas lounge in the terminal and I think it became a Jetstar lounge before they closed it. It was no where near big enough to handle 3-5 domestic departures in quick succession...

09 Jul 2012

Total posts 25

AKL, as bad as EWR? No airport is as bad as Newark! Just look at last year's scoring for US airports as rated by American travellers themselves. Newark came......last. AKL is no paradise, but its nowhere near as bad as Newark: 70s style, stained carpets, cracked tiles, greasy seats, overflowing bins, filthy toilets, illegal touts at the baggage carousel, trainline not working. Passing through EWR once was enough. I subsequently gave up another business class tkt on Virgin America just to avoid that decrepit ruin.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 167

This is all very well, but there are several points, as some have already noted, which means this is virtually impossible with a customs union being established - a matter I doubt NZ (which has the more liberal trade policy generally) would embrace.

1) Anyone engaging in international transit in NZ or through Australia (e.g. flying QF HKG-SYD-WLG or NZ IAH-AKL-MEL) would need to clear customs/immigration in a country that isn't the final destination.  NZ and Australia have different quarantine and customs rules around imports, let alone immigration rules.  Can't see each others' country just letting them through for the final "domestic" hop.  After all, Air NZ's business includes flying 777s from the US to Australia via AKL.   Fifth freedom carriers would be stuck as they have to arrive at international at one end and leave the same way, they might drop the Tasman if their flights are more burdensome for travellers than NZ/VA/QF/JQ

2) In NZ, other than AKL and CHC the other international airports only have flights to Australia, so would probably just integrate terminals.  Not a big deal, although AKL domestic (which is a busy old Air NZ terminal and a basic Jetrats terminal) is hardly well suited to Trans Tasman services esp. the NZ widebodies.

3) In Australia, I can't see NZ wanting to fly out of VA domestic terminals in any of the major hubs.

There may be a case to accelerate NZ/Australian passport holders travelling internationally through the international terminals, but beyond that it has major trade and immigration implications.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1196

This issue foundered last time because AU was less then enamoured with NZ customs and Immigration and didn't want unauthorised entries getting back-door access into AU particularly Pacific Island countries.  NZ was a bit offended but this type of feeling is now quite prevalent in the EU also with some countries in western Europe a bit leery about the access controls in less wealthy EU members further east.

You can see the attraction for QF, VA and NZ.  They would be able to direct pax through terminals they control meaning less cost and more traffic through their terminal concessions.  They would also gain a leg-up over 5th freedom carriers such as EK etc who would remain restricted to the international terminals though it is possible that pax on these airlines may be able to use the D stamp method to speed things up.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2013

Total posts 134

Well the Auckland lounge is up to Dom standard already. Perhaps quarantine is an issue?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1247

The QF AKL J lounge is awful.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Apr 2013

Total posts 30

I'm suprised Sydney and Melbourne airports arent getting behind this. They aren't doing anything else to address their capacity issues. As their capacity is maxing out they can substitute a 737/A320 to NZ using a gate with potentially a larger plane to elsewhere. More pax is more money.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 685

BINGO - we have joint winners.

Both Libertyscott and Reeves35 have the correct reasoning down-pat.

Whilst QF/VA/NZ etc might support seamless travel between OZ and NZ, I am surprised that their CEO's seem to display such a unified cavalier attitude. Sorry guys, but the people you need to convince are the good burghers at our Customs & Immigration Departments.

NZ has a more liberal 'entry' policy than does Australia. Hence Australian Immigration has finite concerns about 'back-door' entry - even from our closest ally & neighbour. As does AQUIS. Think of all those flights from various parts of Asia with pax bringing in a suitcase full of regional food / seeds / meats etc.

Not gonna happen within the foreseeable future, IMHO.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 197

The 'Cloud Passport' is currently being trailed from BNE for AIr NZ passengers only.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2012

Total posts 159

Practicalities aside, this might potentially open up flights to more regional NZ destinations such as Napier or Hamilton, where it is currently not cost effect to provide full immigration facilities.

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