COVID-19: Air Newzealand boss says no trans tasman flights until March 2021
We can forget about a ‘trans-Tasman bubble’, quarantine free zone until March 2021 according to a report by the delightful Patrick Hatch from the Sydney Morning Herald, based on observations by Greg Foran, the CEO of Air New Zealand.
That’s a bit disappointing, as I was hopeful we might at least be able to travel between Australia and New Zealand sooner rather than later.
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Started job during crisis
What a doozy of a way to start a job – Foran joined Air NZ in February this year – basically at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. Bet he wishes he was back at Walmart in the USA, where the business is going gangbusters during the pandemic.
Air NZ has been hit harder than many airlines, as international flights are 2/3 of its bread and butter, unlike Qantas where they barely make any money from long-haul, while the real profits are in domestic routes.
Staffing and finance
Air New Zealand used to have a 12,500 strong workforce, which it has reduced by a little over 4,000 since it lost AU$416 million – nearly half of the $900 million loan the New Zealand government has extended. Air NZ (unlike Qantas) is a real national airline, being 52% government owned.
Future of flying
Foran like the rest of us, doesn’t know when we will be flying internationally again. He is prepared to guess, noting that he will be popping champagne if trans-Tasman flying without quarantine starts this year.
He doesn’t think the vaccine will be an instant answer either, even if one or more are available at the end of this year. With expectations of around 50% effectiveness plus the time it will take for vaccinations to be distributed around the world – 2023 is when he forecasts flying returning to something like pre-COVID-19.
He also sees flying changing from the way it was pre-COVID-19. Rapid testing pre and post flights might be the norm, and we will need to hand over more details for contact tracing and tracking. He’s also a bit cold on pursuing an elimination strategy, which has been NZ’s goal.
Air NZ is scheduling up to 85% of normal capacity for October – that’s domestic and servicing Kiwi’s returning home from abroad. That’s a lot different from Qantas which is operating at about 20% of its normal capacity.
On the other hand, he thinks slashing the international network and maybe delaying their current order for 8 Boeing 787s are on the cards.
Talk about walking into a challenge!
I’m a bit devastated about the delay in the trans-Tasman bubble. I was hoping we might see this created before Christmas, so I could dash over to sample the delights of the new Auckland Park Hyatt.