Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland Int'l) will establish a temporary pilot and crew base in Brisbane Int'l, Australia until November 30, 2021, to ensure potential disruptions to the trans-Tasman travel bubble will not again affect the continuity of its services to Norfolk Island, the airline says.

This follows after Air New Zealand managed to extend its agreement with the Australian government to operate flights between Norfolk Island and Australia for another two years. The island is an external territory of Australia located in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and New Caledonia, around 1,400 kilometres due east of the Australian mainland.

Air New Zealand will resume services to Norfolk Island from August 30, 2021, until the end of August 2023. Under the agreement, it will use an A320-200N to operate up to three flights per week from Brisbane and three flights from Sydney Kingsford Smith to Norfolk Island.

Even though the island is an offshore Australian territory, it has been serviced by Air New Zealand since 2012 in terms of an agreement with the Australian government. It was the only airline operating scheduled services between Norfolk and mainland Australia during 2020.

However, as previously reported, the New Zealand flag carrier was forced to suspend its Norfolk Island services in February 2021 when a COVID-19 outbreak in Auckland resulted in the suspension of the one-way travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand. This left Norfolk Island suddenly cut off from Australia, its sole tourism market, resulting in Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) temporarily stepping in to provide air access from Sydney and Brisbane.

"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. 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,” explained Air New Zealand's Chief Operating Officer, Carrie Hurihanganui.

"We know our customers value these services, and we're thrilled to be able to resume the route from late August. We'd like to thank Qantas for stepping in to operate the route over the past few months to ensure continuity of flights for our customers," she said.