New Zealand will begin a phased reopening of its borders to the rest of the world from mid-April, beginning with Australians from 11.59pm on April 12, which marks the beginning of the Easter school holidays.
“Reopening in time for the upcoming Australian school holidays will help spur our economic recovery in the short term and is good news for the winter ski season,” NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this morning.
Visitors will need to be vaccinated and produce a negative result from a pre-departure PCR or rapid antigen test, and undergo a rapid test on arrival.
Travellers from other visa-waiver countries including the UK and the USA will be allowed to arrive under the same conditions from 11.59pm on May 1.
The April 2022 reopening comes almost a year since Australia and New Zealand launched a quarantine-free ‘trans-Tasman bubble’ – a bubble which burst barely 12 weeks later following localised outbreaks of the Covid-19 Delta variant.
While that bubble didn’t require vaccination or any form of testing, both are likely to be on the cards this time around.
Airlines ready for a flood of flights
Air New Zealand and Qantas are expected to ramp up their current skeleton schedules, used to ferry home NZ citizens and residents living overseas, and Jetstar – which this week resumed flying to Bali – is certain to be quick off the mark.
Virgin Australia’s intentions are not yet known: the airline opted out of the original 2021 bubble to focus on building out its domestic network and shoring up its market share in the face of competition from Qantas, Jetstar and new challenger Rex.
There’s also a trans-Tasman treat in store for Qantas Platinum and Platinum One-grade frequent flyers, who will once again be able to enjoy the full Qantas First Lounge experience on flights departing from Sydney and Melbourne.
Australia and New Zealand have long been 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.
However, visitors to New Zealand will also be paying slightly more for their tickets, with the country’s Border Processing Levy having risen during the pandemic closure from NZ$20 per airline passenger return trip to NZ$43, with passengers arriving on cruise ships to be charged NZ$36.
The higher charges are expected to be passed on by airlines and cruise companies in the form of increased ticket costs.
Air New Zealand extends Qantas, Virgin status match
Successful applicants for AirNZ’s Touch of Gold status match will finally be able to take the necessary Air New Zealand flights to lock in their Airpoints Gold (and Star Alliance Gold) status for a full year, after the Kiwi carrier extended the qualification period to June 30, 2022 – over a year since the offer itself was launched.
“Since the start of the Touch of Gold promotion there have been a number of travel interruptions caused by Covid-19,” the airline says, noting “this may have prevented you from earning the required Status Points to move to full Airpoints Gold.”
“You will now have until 30 June 2022 to continue to enjoy your Gold benefits and earn towards the required 100 Status Points through Air New Zealand travel.”