Travel bubbles unlikely: Air New Zealand chief

Air New Zealand’s chief executive is not sure the world will see too many travel bubbles as countries emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic.

The travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia, which allowed for restriction-free travel across the Tasman, was suspended in July 2021. 

“I think a bubble is quite an interesting concept and I am not convinced in my own mind that we’re going to see too many more bubbles or even a return to bubbles,” Greg Foran told analysts after the carrier reported annual results on August 26, 2021. 

Foran instead expects travel with Australia to follow the strategy of other countries, requiring proof of vaccination and tests before departure and after arrival. Such conditions mean Air New Zealand is not expecting a flood of bookings once international travel resumes. 

“It’s not that big a deal for us to open up but I’m not expecting if those are the conditions that we will see… an avalanche of people wanting to travel but there will be some,” Foran predicted.

Chief financial officer Richard Thompson commented that Air New Zealand had not seen an “avalanche” of bookings as soon as the trans-Tasman bubble opened. 

“What we saw is a short sharp spike in what we saw VFR or visiting friends and relative markets,” Thompson explained. “The balance of the market, the leisure market to a lesser extent, the corporate market, just started to book relatively normally.”

Still, Foran said he was optimistic about the future of travel demand, given the rollout of vaccines worldwide. 

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