Weekend Herald

Airline bosses pav way for Tasman bubble flights with lounge-sharing deal

- Grant Bradley

Qantas boss Alan Joyce says his airline has reached a lounge deal with Air New Zealand — revealing he could have been nobbled by a gift from the Kiwi carrier.

In the spirit of “healthy competitio­n”, Air NZ boss Greg Foran had a pavlova delivered to Joyce shortly after the quarantine-free flight bubble was announced.

However, the New Zealand creation was covered in kiwifruit.

“I’m highly allergic to kiwifruit. I don’t know if he’s trying to get rid of me,” Joyce joked at a function at Sydney Airport on Thursday.

Qantas would reciprocat­e with its own pav for Foran, designed by the airline’s food guru Neil Perry and covered in passionfru­it.

“I hope Greg’s not allergic to passionfru­it. That would be a bad look,” said Joyce.

Qantas has struck a deal with Air New Zealand that will allow its passengers to use the Kiwi airline’s lounges in Auckland, Wellington, Christchur­ch and Queenstown. The Australian airline is taking some of its internatio­nal lounges out of hibernatio­n from Monday, the first day of the full transtasma­n bubble. These include its internatio­nal First Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, along with its Premium Lounge in Brisbane. Because there will be fewer internatio­nal passengers in total, it has opened the doors of its First Lounges to Platinum One, Platinum and Gold frequent flyers, as well as Business customers and Qantas Club members.

Qantas has pared back its transtasma­n network announced on April 6, largely because of weaker demand out of New Zealand than expected.

“The Kiwis . . . have probably been under the doona, or duvet, for too long and the demand over there is not as strong,” Joyce said.

“But as New Zealand gets cold and Queensland gets more attractive, we’re probably going to get a lot more Kiwis wanting to get over to Australia and we will build up capacity and service.” He said demand from Australia was “massive” and stronger than at the same time two years ago.

There would be more than 100 flights a week and of the 16 a day, half would be on widebody Airbus A330s, while Qantas would at some stage fly its 787-9 Dreamliner­s across the Tasman.

“What we are doing is going back there in style and in force. A lot of airlines are cutting back on product and service — we’re investing in it and improving it from what it has been.”

Speaking in the First lounge, he said the flight informatio­n or flicker board there was locked in time for more than a year. It had stopped on March 23 last year, the day Qantas grounded its internatio­nal flights.

But the airline was quickly building up its operations and the 30 aircraft that were parked up on the airport’s east-west runway last year were all back in the air.

Qantas group domestic capacity is increasing beyond previous estimates to reach 90 per cent of pre-Covid levels later in the financial year and Jetstar would exceed 100 per cent due to strong leisure demand.

All Qantas and Jetstar domestic crew are now back at work.

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 ??  ?? Qantas says there is “massive” demand in Oz for NZ flights.
Qantas says there is “massive” demand in Oz for NZ flights.

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