Air New Zealand is extending its current pared-back international timetable until the middle of 2021. Despite ongoing travel restrictions and low passenger demand, Air New Zealand is keeping air links open on vital passenger and cargo corridors. But on many routes, there will be just one return service a week.

“We understand these are very uncertain times, and it can be tricky for people looking to get home with a lot of things needing to line up including flights, testing, and managed isolation bookings,” said Air New Zealand’s Scott Carr in a statement on Tuesday.

“We strongly recommend customers check government border restrictions for the relevant countries and/or individual passport requirements before booking a ticket.”

Air New Zealand keeps up a presence around the Pacific

Air New Zealand is one of the few airlines based in the Southwest Pacific that has maintained an international network over the past 12 months. The airline’s CEO has previously spoken about the importance of maintaining a strategic presence in and air links around the Pacific.

On Tuesday, Air New Zealand released its schedule for the period March 28 to June 30, 2021. The airline will operate twice weekly return services from Auckland to Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles. Air New Zealand will operate one return service a week to Tokyo and just one return service a month to Seoul.

Closer to home, there will be a single weekly return service from Auckland to Nadi, Nuie, Samoa, and Tongo. Rarotonga in the Cook Islands will get a daily return service from Auckland.

On trans-Tasman flights to Australia, Air New Zealand is typically operating three weekly return flights to both Melbourne and Brisbane out of Auckland. There are also flights five days a week to Sydney out of Auckland. Air New Zealand advises that pending further border restrictions, this schedule will continue until June 30.

Two-way travel bubble still on the cards

With Air New Zealand’s Boeing 777 fleet grounded until September 2021, the long-haul routes will be operated by the airline’s fleet of 14 Boeing 787-9s, all of which remain in service. Many of the shorter hops around the Pacific and trans-Tasman flights will be operated by Air New Zealand’s Airbus A320-200 aircraft.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand and competitor airlines across the Tasman are crossing their fingers that the much-vaunted proposed two-way trans-Tasman travel bubble doesn’t pop. Australia now allows most New Zealanders entry without quarantine, but New Zealand is yet to return the favor.

The idea of a two-way travel bubble between the two countries has been around since May. Before Christmas, the New Zealand Government indicated they’d come to the party and start letting Australians skip the quarantine queues this March.

Despite a few hiccups since then, the New Zealand Government appears to be staying on track with this. If this remains the case, Air New Zealand and Qantas could happily throw some more capacity on trans-Tasman routes and beef up their schedules. Before the travel downturn, Air New Zealand operated up to seven return flights a day on key routes such as Auckland – Sydney, using a mix of widebody and narrowbody jets.

Air New Zealand notes their published schedules remain subject to change and remain dependant on global travel and border restrictions.

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