Transtasman bubble: Air New Zealand plans Auckland to Hobart

Air New Zealand will fly two non-stop services a week between Auckland and Hobart when a two-way transtasman bubble is started.

The airline last flew there 23 years ago and said today the city would be its tenth Australian destination.

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said the route will be a much-needed economic boost for New Zealand’s tourism industry.

“Our Hobart – Auckland route will open a direct link between 540,000 potential Tasmanian tourists and our biggest city, with regional hot spots like Queenstown and Rotorua a short skip away.”

Flights would be on Airbus A320neo aicraft and on Thursday and Sunday to make the most of domestic connectivity and provide the best long weekend options for travellers, he said.

Foran said that while New Zealand will be a key destination for Tasmanians, the route will open opportunities for Kiwis too.

“As Australia’s second oldest city, Hobart is rich in heritage and its world-famous Museum of Old and New Art mixes antiquities among contemporary art.”

The state would be popular with Kiwis wanting to enjoy world class art and culture, to the food and wine scene, spectacular landscapes and an abundance of wildlife.

“Similarly, we know Tasmanians love to visit New Zealand and this direct service to Auckland will make it that much easier to get out into our great outdoors and access our winter playgrounds.”

Air New Zealand’s chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said all regulatory approval was in place for the flights which take about four hours.

The airline – which is operating just 11 per cent of its pre-Covid transtasman services – had beenconstantly reviewing its network.

”The environment we’re in now is totallly different and that market was the largest where we’re not operating a non-stop flight between Australia and New Zealand,” she said.

”We think it’s a great opportunity to open up to those people.”

She said hoped the service would be well balanced between Tasmanians coming to New Zealand and vice versa.In 2019 about 60,000 Kiwis visited Tasmania.

”We will be marketing on both sides of the Tasman.”

Geraghty said there would be financial support from the Tasmanian government but the figure was commercially sensitive.

”We’re ready to go but it is contingent – tickets will go on sale once the bubble announcement is made.”

Fares would be dependent on demand but there would be a ”great range of fares.”

An announcement on a two-way bubble could come as early as Monday after several states in Australia have allowed quarantine-free entry for much of the past six months (aside from some community outbreaks here).

On Thursday, under mounting pressure to fix a bubble start date, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that would happen “soon” but the Government wanted an arrangement that would stick.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein says the announcement today of the new non-stop flights to Hobart from New Zealand is a significant opportunity for both destinations.

“I am very pleased that this service will enable us to welcome more New Zealanders to our state and encourage them to consider booking their next holiday in Tassie and see what we have to offer.”

Air New Zealand pulled its last Hobart to New Zealand service in 1998 because it wasn’t commercially viable. The airline flew between Christchurch and Hobart.

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