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Australia-New Zealand travel bubble launches with lopsided demand

Tue 20th April, 2021 12:25am
* 3x more travel from Australia to New Zealand than the
    * Before the pandemic, demand had been relatively equal
    * Qantas expects situation to normalise in a few months

    By Jamie Freed
    SYDNEY, April 20 (Reuters) - A testing and quarantine free
travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand launched with
lopsided demand, according to airlines and data firms, with an
unusually high number of the travellers departing from
    The initial results from Asia's first restriction-free
travel bubble since the pandemic hit, which opened on Monday,
showed that travel patterns can depart from their norms after
such a long closure and may take time to return to normal. 
    "Right now, it's one-way traffic, with almost three times as
much travel going to New Zealand as in the opposite direction,"
said Olivier Ponti, vice president insights at travel data firm
    Before the pandemic hit, travel between the countries was
relatively equal despite Australia having a population around
five times as large as New Zealand.*:nL1N2MB0NS
    In 2019, 1.5 million Australians travelled to New Zealand,
while 1.4 million New Zealanders travelled to Australia,
according to their respective tourism marketing organisations.
    Ticketing from April 6 to 12 for travel from New Zealand to
Australia recovered to 27% of the volume seen in the same period
in 2019, while the opposite direction recovered to 69% of the
2019 level, according to ForwardKeys data provided to Reuters.
    Ponti said the initial travel rush from Australia to New
Zealand was probably partly explained by there being around
600,000 New Zealanders living in Australia versus 60,000
Australians living in New Zealand, as well as Australians
looking to head to New Zealand's ski fields for holidays.
    Air New Zealand Ltd  AIR.NZ  said of the 5,200 passengers
booked on Monday, 59% were travelling to New Zealand.
    Qantas Airways Ltd  QAN.AX  Chief Executive Alan Joyce said
last week that demand from the New Zealand end had been sluggish
relative to that from Australia, though he expected it would
pick up within a few months.
    Qantas plans to run 83% of its pre-COVID capacity between
Australia and New Zealand, while Air New Zealand is flying 70%.*:nL1N2LZ07W
    Before the pandemic, around 20% of traffic between the
countries was comprised of international tourists from places
such as the United States and China, Joyce said.

 (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
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