Self-isolation needs to go asap say airlines

Self-isolation needs to go asap say airlines

Allowing more people to cross New Zealand’s border and to self-isolate rather than do days in MIQ can’t come a minute too soon say international airlines.

Some airlines have already stopped flying to New Zealand. Some have hung on with the help of cargo support. But the end of February is going to be crunch time says Justin Tighe-Umbers, executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand (BARNZ).

“Self-isolation requirements need to go as soon as possible, or some airlines will cut New Zealand from their routes for a third summer in a row,” he says. “The end of February is when airlines will assign planes to routes where there is some hope of financial recovery.

“The airlines have told me they want to fly here, but they need to know New Zealand is open to business. Leisure and business travellers will not come if they have to self-isolate for days – it’s a market killer.

“This country used to bring in $17 billion from international tourism. By 2021 this had plummeted to only $1.5 billion. That’s more than $15 billion of value that’s taken years to create gone for New Zealand businesses, taking livelihoods and wellbeing with it. Every day counts for the people running these businesses and the people who work for them. It’s essential that New Zealand opens quarantine-free the minute our Omicron risk is the same as the rest of the world.”

Mr Tighe-Umbers says a growing number of countries that have seen a wave of Omicron are now acknowledging that borders are no longer an effective tool to fight COVID and are moving to quarantine-free entry.

“The United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and a growing number of EU countries are all allowing quarantine-free entry to qualified, fully vaccinated, foreign travellers,” he says.