Qantas predicts a two-way trans-Tasman bubble will open by July, but its competitor Air New Zealand is taking a more flexible approach.
On Thursday, the airlines, both crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic, posted losses for the six months to December 30. Qantas posted an A-year loss of A $ 1.08 billion (NZ $ 1.16b), while Air New- Zealand posted a loss of $ 72 million.
After delivering the result, Qantas director Alan Joyce said it planned to add a “substantial” number of services to New Zealand from July.
Joyce said travel across Tas-Tasman should be possible once quarantined frontline workers were vaccinated against Covid-19.
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“That will mean that the outbreaks we have seen in New Zealand and Australia are very, very unlikely … which will bring some certainty and stability to the opening of the travel bubble,” Joyce said.
Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said he did not know when a bell would open.
“I think all you can do at this point is build a variety of scenarios, and that’s exactly what we did,” Foran said.
It had built scenarios on New Zealand that opened up to Australia, the Pacific and “the wider world” that were regularly reviewed, he said.
“Every month we review these scenarios and adjust based on the information.
“The important thing is that we maintain some flexibility so that when it opens, for example, July, as Alan has speculated, or it may be in August, or it may be in October, we are ready to be there. ”
On Wednesday night, Foran had to manage the cancellation of some of the quarantine-free “green” flights to Australia, after Queensland and Tasmania closed their doors to New Zealanders and Victoria imposed quarantine rules due to a few Covid-19 community cases in Auckland. ,
Both New Zealand and Australia have begun vaccinating frontier workers against Covid-19. New Zealand’s nationwide immunization is expected to last a year. The Australian government has set itself an ambitious goal to vaccinate all Australians who want one in October.
Joyce said that was when international flights would go further than New Zealand.
A quarantine-free trans-Tasman bubble has been on the table since early times in the pandemic, but has received persistent setbacks due to flare-ups of Covid-19 in the community.
In question time on Thursday, the New Zealand government said officials had “agreements with Australia” over a travel bell.
Air New Zealand and Qantas took various approaches in managing the Covid-19 crisis early on.
While Air New Zealand has already taken radical steps to cut costs from the company, including cutting a third of its 12,000-strong workforce, Qantas stopped making staff redundant, and instead fell most of its 30,000 staff.
But at the end of June, Qantas made 6,000 rolls redundant, with a surplus of about 15,000 managed by a mix of stand down, annual leave and unpaid leave.
Foran said that Air New Zealand’s job cuts were one of the hardest things he had to do, but it was the right decision given the airline’s circumstances, which did not offer furlough as an option.
“By taking the action we took, albeit painfully, I think it was appropriate and has now put us in a position where we can look forward to getting this company back on track.”
Recently, the airline began recalling cabin crew who were out of work as a result of Covid-19 job cuts as it prepares for Bubbles Tasman and Pacific.