The New Zealand Herald

Kiwis spreading our wings

Accommodat­ion, passport and flight inquiries skyrocket

- Julia Gabel

Kiwis and Australian­s have flocked to buy airline tickets to cross the Tasman after Jacinda Ardern’s announceme­nt that quarantine-free travel between the countries would start on April 19.

Air New Zealand said Tuesday was a “record sales day” with tens of thousands of Kiwis and Aussies booking flights in the hours after the transtasma­n bubble announceme­nt.

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said Auckland-Sydney was the most popular route on Tuesday and had seen the largest growth in bookings to date. “We expect this is a mixture of friends and family making up for a year of missed milestones, and business travellers keen to get moving again.”

At the same time, there had been strong bookings for Australian­s coming to New Zealand, Foran said.

“Queenstown will see an influx of Aussies in July and September and we expect to see a bigger boost around the country for the July school holidays. It’s promising to be a busy ski season for the mountains. We’ve certainly been looking forward to this moment for a few months now, so to finally have the bubble open is terrific. This will be a great boost for the New Zealand economy and tourism sector.”

Qantas also saw a rush of people looking to book flights after Tuesday’s announceme­nt.

Qantas loyalty chief executive Olivia Wirth said there had been strong demand in both directions. “The number of frequent flyers who redeemed their seats was 80 times busier than what we see on a normal day. So that gives you an idea of how excited people are and we do expect that people have been really looking forward to reconnecti­ng with family and friends.”

The announceme­nt also sparked a wave of people applying for passports. Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs confirmed applicatio­ns were up by 45 per cent on Tuesday, compared to the previous week. Meanwhile, Airbnb reported that searches by both Australian­s and New Zealanders have increased. Searches by Australian­s for New Zealand getaways almost tripled in the day leading up to the date announceme­nt, compared to the same day last week, while searches by Kiwis for Aussie trips almost doubled.

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