Thousands of Kiwis, Australians flock to buy flights across the ditch

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

Air New Zealand said yesterday 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 yesterday 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 really strong bookings for Australians coming to check out 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.”

Air New Zealand’s Australian counterpart Qantas also saw a rush of people looking to book flights after yesterday’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.”

Yesterday’s travel announcement also sparked a wave of people applying for passports.

Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs confirmed passport applications were up by 45 per cent yesterday, compared to the previous week, and online traffic to their web and passport application sites almost tripled.

Meanwhile, Airbnb reported that searches by both Australians and New Zealanders for getaways across the ditch increased in the lead-up to the bubble announcement.

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 New Zealanders for Australian getaways almost doubled.

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