New Zealand has one more link to the outside world as of today with Air Chathams restarting its services to Norfolk Island.
It's the first time New Zealanders have been able to fly directly to the Australian territory in 15 months, and comes on the same day Air New Zealand announced it would resume Norfolk Island flights via Brisbane.
So which airline is offering the better deal?
Air Chathams does have the advantage of operating a direct service, whereas Air NZ has a stopover in Australia.
Based on quotes obtained from SkyScanner.com for flights to Norfolk Island on Monday travelling on August 30 and recorded on June 6, this is how the two airlines compared:
- Departs Auckland: 10.30am
- Arrives at Norfolk Island: 12.15pm (local time)
- Flight time: Two hours and 45 minutes
- Aircraft: ATR-72
- Air fare: $321.43
Air New Zealand
- Departs Auckland: Thursday 7.50pm (this flight arrives in Sydney at 9.25pm local time. There is a 12 hour wait for the next flight to Norfolk Island, which departs Sydney at 9:50am Friday)
- Arrives at Norfolk Island: Friday 1.20pm local time
- Flight time: 18 hours 30 minutes
- Aircraft: AIRBUS A320neo
- Air fare: $906.00
Auckland Airport's Aeronautical Commercial manager, Scott Tasker, said Air Chathams had delivered important domestic airlinks since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was great to see them restart a regular service through to Norfolk Island.
"Regionally-focussed airlines like Air Chathams have played a critical role in keeping New Zealand communities connected over the past year, particularly those domestic air freight connections that allowed fresh, high-quality New Zealand produce to get out to overseas markets," Tasker said.
"The Norfolk Island service not only creates another opportunity for travellers to discover a new destination, but also keeps the local community connected for freight and any essential travel."
Duane Emeny, Air Chathams Chief Operating Officer, said the resumption of flights is a positive step forward for the industry and the airline.
"We had really only just settled into our scheduled flights to Norfolk when the pandemic hit causing us to cease flights in March last year. Kiwis in the past made up half of all visitors to Norfolk Island and it is our hope that we can provide the reliable, safe and regular service to draw that market back," Emeny said.
As Air Chathams' first flight to Norfolk Island headed off on Thursday, Air NZ confirmed it will operate flights between Norfolk Island and Australia from August 30 2021 until the end of August 2023.
Under an agreement with the Australian Government, Air NZ will use its A320 aircraft to operate up to three flights per week from Brisbane and three flights from Sydney.
Air NZ Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui said the airline will establish a temporary pilot and cabin crew base in Brisbane until November 30 to ensure potential disruptions to the travel bubble will not affect continuity of services to Norfolk Island.
"Prior to the trans-Tasman bubble opening, crew operating domestic flights in Australia were required to have been in Australia for 14 days or have arrived in Australia on a quarantine-free flight," Hurihanganui said.
"This unfortunately resulted in us having to suspend services between Norfolk Island and mainland Australia in February. Having crew based in Australia will ensure we avoid disruption should the Australian border close again."
Norfolk Island offers a range of accommodation options and experiences for holidaymakers.
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