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Air New Zealand boss says Trans-Tasman bubble between Australia, New Zealand on hold until 2021

Air New Zealand boss Greg Foran has ruled out a quarantine-free trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand until at least March 2021.

The Chief Executive Officer said establishing the plan ‘could well be longer’, and warned international travel would be ‘clunkier’ when it restarted. 

Tracking and tracing needs to be upgraded and would be required, Mr Foran said. 

Passengers might also be required to take rapid COVID-19 tests before and after flights.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran, who used to be CEO of American retail giant Walmart (pictured), said establishing the trans-Tasman 'could well be longer' than March

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran, who used to be CEO of American retail giant Walmart (pictured), said establishing the trans-Tasman ‘could well be longer’ than March

His comments follow Air New Zealand (pictured) grounding the majority of its seven 777-300 aircraft until the end of 2020 as well as signalling it was unlikely to fly eight 777-200 aircraft in the foreseeable future

The former Walmart CEO’s comments follow Air New Zealand grounding the majority of its seven 777-300 aircraft until the end of 2020 as well as signalling it was unlikely to fly eight 777-200 aircraft in the foreseeable future.

The aircraft – stored at Auckland, Roswell, New Mexico and Victorville, California at the end of September – have operated the majority of the airline’s long haul routes over the past 15 years.

‘I certainly do not believe we will see anything across the Tasman this calendar year. It’s hard to believe it would be before March next year and could well be longer. If it comes back quicker, we’re going to pop some champagne,’ Mr Foran told the Sydney Morning Herald

This is because the vaccines likely to roll out from the end of 2020 will not be 100 per cent effective, he added, and only 50 per cent of people are likely to take it.

‘In America … they’ve recently done a survey over there and only half the people said they’ll take the vaccine … and then of course we have reinfection rates,’ he said. 

The aircraft - stored at Auckland, Roswell, New Mexico and Victorville, California at the end of September - have operated the majority of long haul routes the past 15 years

The aircraft (pictured) – stored at Auckland, Roswell, New Mexico and Victorville, California at the end of September – have operated the majority of the airline’s long haul routes the past 15 years

The trans-Tasman bubble was called off by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) in August as Victoria struggled with a second wave of infections, and clusters became apparent in New South Wales and Auckland

A trans-Tasman bubble allowing unrestricted travel between Australia and New Zealand was initially planned to be up and running by September.

But New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put it on hold in August as Victoria struggled with a second wave of infections, and clusters emerged in New South Wales and Auckland.

‘Obviously this is going to be some time away now,’ Ms Ardern told Radio NZ at the time, adding all of Australia would need to be free of community transmission for a minimum of 28 days before the travel bubble went ahead. 

‘Anywhere where we have COVID-free travel they have to be free of community transmission for a period of time – that will be some time for Australia.

‘It will be on the backburner for several months.’ 








The trans-Tasman bubble - allowing unrestricted travel between Australia and New Zealand - was initially planned to be up and running by September. Pictured: An Air New Zealand aircraft at Nelson Airport in New Zealand

The trans-Tasman bubble – allowing unrestricted travel between Australia and New Zealand – was initially planned to be up and running by September. Pictured: An Air New Zealand aircraft at Nelson Airport in New Zealand

Mr Foran added flights to the US would also not likely resume until the end of 2021, and said wiping the coronavirus out was not realistic.

‘Elimination, which is a worthy thing to go after, is probably not sustainable based on what we’re now learning, which is the vaccine is not going to be 100 per cent effective, not everybody is going to take it, and it’s going to take years to get distributed,’ he said. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on the other hand, remained optimistic about establishing the plan. 

He told the Federal Cabinet on Friday the trans-Tasman bubble could be implemented between regions with zero community transmission of COVID-19.

‘For example, the whole of the South Island is an area where there is no COVID,’ Mr Morrison said. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) was, on the other hand, remained more optimistic about establishing the trans-Tasman bubble between regions with zero community transmission of COVID-19

‘If we can get to the situation soon where those coming home from New Zealand are able to enter Australia without going into a 14-day quarantine in a hotel, or in the worst-case scenario, only having to do that in their home, then what that does is that frees up places in our hotel quarantine system. 

‘We see that as another way of enabling more and more Australians to come home.’

Air New Zealand, which reported an after-tax loss of $454 million for the year until June, announced on Thursday it would cut an additional 385 cabin crew staff due to the lack of long-haul international lights. 

The company has lost about 37 per cent of its workforce – higher than cuts to Qantas with 30 per cent and Singapore Airlines with 20 per cent. 

The figure will be added to the 4,000 jobs lost at Air New Zealand since February. 

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