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One-way trans-Tasman flight $11,400 – plus quarantine fee

September 22, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Jet-setting billionaires and expensive, fast-selling flights are making news, with a seat on the next available one-way flight from Auckland to Sydney in October reportedly priced at $11,400 – including stopovers in Malaysia and China (!) before landing in Australia.

That’s according to an ABC News report at the weekend, which said it used a Google Flights search to find that flight.

The ABC website said the average price of the next three available Auckland-Sydney flights was $8116, “at the time of writing” – a situation it contrasted with prices in February, “when Australian carriers and Air New Zealand were locked in a battle to entice people over the Tasman, with some flights from the latter priced as low as $NZ69 (A$64)”.

Anyone crazy enough to pay a fortune and book such a circuitous, so-called “trans-Tasman flight” (with stopovers in Malaysia and China) might find themselves in quarantine during their journey – and certainly on arrival in Australia, where they would face two weeks mandatory lockdown in a hotel at a cost of $3000. You can’t leave the room so you don’t even get a room key.

So much for trans-Tasman “travel bubbles”. Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran says the possibility of quarantine-free air travel between Australia and New Zealand won’t even be considered until next March at the earliest.

“I certainly do not believe we will see anything across the Tasman this calendar year,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Foran as saying. He added: “It’s hard to believe it would be before March next year – and could well be longer.”

Billionaires and celebrity travellers with recourse to corporate jets seem to do rather better than most.

British billionaire television host, Lord Alan Sugar, revealed on Twitter last week he had secured a seat on an Emirates flight from London to Sydney. Usually, Sugar flies by private jet.

Flight – the experience Australians crave. Photo by Peter Needham

Sugar tweeted:

I’ve not traveled on a commercial airline for 25 years. Yesterday I traveled to Sydney with @emirates. I have never experienced service like it in all my life. It was fantastic. both on the ground and in the air. Amazing. For the skeptics it was fully paid for not free. 7:20 AM · Sep 17, 2020·

How Emirates must have loved that comment! Sugar added that he had to wear a mask and insisted he would be doing 14 days quarantine on arrival in Sydney – but the news nevertheless provoked surprise and indignation.

“I admire you Lord Sugar but it might be better to keep quiet,” one person tweeted. “People like myself are desperate to be able to get in to Australia. I have a daughter and three grandchildren who need help in Adelaide. Borders closed two weeks before my flight in March. Celebs before family!!!”

Other readers pointed out that tens of thousands of Australians overseas, stranded for no fault of their own, are desperate to secure an airline seat to fly home. Unlike Lord Sugar, a seat on a private jet is not an option.

Social media shows people have noticed that former prime minister Tony Abbott received an exemption last month to fly to Britain, where he will be taking up a new position as a British trade envoy.

Earlier this month, actor Tom Hanks was allowed to fly into Australia in connection with Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic Elvis, in which he stars, the Age revealed.

MEANWHILE, the desperation of Australians to board a plane and fly – no matter where – triggered a stampede last week to buy seats on a Qantas “flight to nowhere”, with seats starting at nearly $800.

Flight QF787, a joy flight operated by a Qantas B787 Dreamliner and dubbed “Great Southern Land”, is due to depart Sydney Airport on 10 October and return seven hours later, without landing anywhere else.

Just 134 tickets were on sale last week – business class, premium economy and economy, costing from $787 to $3787. They sold out in a 10-minute buying frenzy. It was one of the fastest selling Qantas flights in history.

Public eagerness to buy tickets to nowhere shows that:

  1. Some people are desperate to fly again.
  2. Some people have plenty of money.

Passengers on “Great Southern Land” will enjoy grand aerial views of Australian icons like the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, along with Kata Tjuta, Byron Bay, Bondi Beach and Sydney Harbour.

Written by Peter Needham

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