Virgin delays trans-Tasman flights until October

Virgin Australia has stated it will not restart most of its trans-Tasman flights until October 31 following yesterday’s news of the restart of flights between Australia and New Zealand.

The carrier will only offer a limited Queenstown service from September 18.

“While the airline remains committed to trans-Tasman flying when the market fully recovers, we are mindful of evolving border requirements which add complexity to our business as we push ahead with plans to grow our core domestic Australia operations,” Virgin said.

Qantas and Jetstar will operate up to 122 return flights a week on all of its normal services to New Zealand, which amounts to an 83 per cent return to its pre-pandemic capacity, while Air New Zealand says it will put on around 30 flights from Auckland to Australia a day. It will also ramp up flights to Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown and eight of its Australian ports.

To enter New Zealand, passengers need to show they have not tested positive to Covid-19, not be awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test or be showing symptoms in the 14 days prior to the flight.

They will also have to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app while in New Zealand.

Despite all this, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has cautioned there may still be disruption to travel plans saying “it will not be what it was pre-Covid”.

“People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak,” she said.