Air New Zealand has operated the very first bubble flight from Australia. Flight NZ246 departed Sydney with a full load of customers ready to reunite with friends and relatives; it was due to land in Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) at 1pm NZT on 19 April.

    This service is one of almost 500 flights the airline is currently operating across its international and domestic networks.

    Commenting on the flight, Air New Zealand short-haul inflight service manager Craig Suckling said: “It was quite the emotional rollercoaster here in Sydney. The check-in area was a hive of activity and at the boarding gate passengers were eager to get on. Put it this way, we certainly weren’t calling customers for a final boarding call!”

    He continued: “For over 400 days, New Zealanders have needed to isolate on return to Aotearoa (home). Now, both Kiwis and Aussies can enter freely, so this is an incredibly emotional day. Our flights into New Zealand from Australia are at 97 per cent capacity today, so you can picture what the airports look like.”

    On arrival into Wellington customers received a warm welcome, as they disembarked to the sound of traditional live music.

    Air New Zealand operates a global network of passenger and cargo services to, from and within New Zealand. Prior to Covid-19, the airline carried more than 17 million passengers a year and operated around 3,400 flights each week.

    Last April, the airline donated more than 52,000 inflight snacks to charities and local essential workers to show its appreciation for their hard work during the global coronavirus pandemic. The airline’s reduced flying schedule had resulted in a large quantity of excess inflight snacks.

    More than 190 boxes of Cookie Time biscuits and One Square Meal bars were shipped to essential workers at police stations and hospitals, as well as charities and social enterprises such as Eat My Lunch, KidsCan, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Women’s Refuge, Refugees as Survivors NewZealand and Everybody Eats.