Not enough flights to cope with 'so many people wanting to leave' NZ - OE agency

An overseas experience (OE) agency says New Zealanders are desperately wanting to travel internationally and work - but can't secure the flights to do so.

The Government earlier this year scrapped isolation requirements for people returning to New Zealand from overseas, leading to international travel bookings soaring.

But the ball isn't quite rolling for people wanting to go on their OE and work overseas - largely due to flights being so hard to get, one travel agency has said.

"We have so many people wanting to leave the country to work abroad but there just aren't any seats on direct flights to the USA or to Australia until the end of July," said Vicki Kenny, the founder of Auckland-based agency International Working Holidays.

"With the resumption of the big OE we have young New Zealanders wanting to work as au pairs, camp counsellors and resort workers in the US but it is increasingly difficult to arrange placements because the airlines are not yet back to full capacity."

US flights have filled up fast since the borders opened. A quick search of Auckland to LA flights on Air New Zealand's website shows very few seats available between June and the end of July. 

Most of the national carrier's flights on the route were full up to July 30, with a limited amount of planes with less than five seats remaining.

"As the New Zealand agent for Camp America we were careful to book ahead for our camp counsellors who have to be there by June but we are now having to be quite creative for people wanting to work in five-star resorts in the US," Kenny said. 

"The resorts are crying out for staff and Kiwi workers are in huge demand."

Last month, New Zealand agency House of Travel warned flights were going to be tight for some time. The agency's comments came as travel between New Zealand and Australia proved trickier than anticipated when the borders opened, due to expensive flights that were difficult to get. 

"That's because air capacity hasn't come back to where it was, say in 2019," House of Travel chief executive Brent Thomas said. "There's not the number of carriers coming in and the carriers who are here do not have the number of planes."

An Air New Zealand spokesperson told Newshub there was pent up demand for trans-Tasman travel.

"To help with this, we've added an extra 96 flights between the nations this week for April through to June, an increase of approximately 20,000 seats," the spokesperson said on Monday.

"We've also been ramping up demand for the winter period so Aussies can enjoy our fantastic ski slopes here in New Zealand.

"Rest assured, we're working hard to get our customers across the Tasman and have put on as much capacity as we can."