Air New Zealand has canceled more than 1,000 flights connecting New Zealand and Australia, citing the current border uncertainty between the two countries.
On November 22, 2021, Leanne Geraghty, Air New Zealand’s chief chief customer and sales officer, told local media that the carrier canceled flights to and from New Zealand in response to “recent statements by the New Zealand Government that quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand is unlikely to recommence [in 2021]”.
Geraghty said: “We’ve had to make the difficult decision to change our schedule.”
He added: “I appreciate how difficult this news will be, but our hands are tied until border restrictions ease, and we receive further clarity from the New Zealand Government.”
The company stated that mass cancelations would affect at least 20,000 passengers who booked flights while hoping borders between New Zealand and Australia would reopen before Christmas.
Travelers who had already booked flights from now until December 31, would have an option to apply for a refund or rebook a flight when operations resume.
While Air New Zealand has significantly reduced its flight schedule, its flight timetables indicate that the company continues to offer a limited number of services to and from Sydney and Melbourne. However, these flights are only available to passengers exempt from COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Initially implemented in July 2021, quarantine-free travel with Australia was further suspended in September 2021 in a bid to stop the spread of the Delta variant in New Zealand. On November 1, 2021, restrictions were eased and quarantine-free travel between countries was partially resumed.
However, due to the current rise in new infections, a fully resumed flight schedule is unlikely to take place until 2022.