‘The only way’: Australians stranded in private jets chartered in New Zealand to return home | New Zealand
Australians desperate to return from New Zealand go to great lengths to do so, spending tens of thousands of dollars to charter private jets.
New Zealand suspended non-quarantine travel from Australia in July, after New South Wales and other states struggled to contain their delta outbreaks. The government has indicated that the trans-Tasman bubble is unlikely to reopen anytime soon.
The Australian government then suspended all non-quarantine flights from New Zealand on August 18, amid the Delta outbreak in Auckland.
The break left Australians and New Zealanders stranded on either side of the ditch, and with bookings of “red flights” within minutes, some people have chartered private jets at great cost.
Sharon Russell was on what was to be a two-week trip to Queenstown, which turned into eight weeks when the Australian government suddenly banned travel from New Zealand, Stuff reported.
After six flights were canceled and she and her husband missed Air New Zealand’s two red flights, she assembled a group and booked a private jet from Auckland to Sydney on Monday.
“I just said to my husband, ‘we have to go, we have to get out of here,'” she told Stuff.
“It’s the only way to get back.”
Russell had around 50 posts from people interested in chartering a flight, after posting on social media, but many stepped back when it came to dealing with the money. A 14-seat plane would have cost the group NZD $ 85,000.
In the end, it switched to an eight-seater plane at a total cost of $ 40,000, through Australian private jet company Airly.
Airly chief executive Luke Hampshire said there had been an “unusually high” increase in requests for charter services since the bubble break. While it’s great that the service is available to bring people home, the situation was “incredibly unfair,” Hampshire said.
He said that while many people have inquired about the service, most cannot afford to follow through.
âUnfortunately, with the private sector, there is no cheap way to do it. But we put everything in place for them, so when they land their quarantine is taken care of, âHampshire said.
The company has provided one flight from New Zealand and has two more scheduled.
Another traveler, who spoke to RNZ, Tim Knowlman, said he, her husband and baby chartered a flight after their planned move to Australia was thwarted by the lockdown.
The family was due to leave New Zealand two days after the lockdown was announced and had already shipped their belongings to Brisbane. They found themselves stranded without a job, home or plane.
âThe (charter) company made it very, very simple. They said they would organize all of our MIQ bookings in Australia when we arrived and we actually found the process with the charter company to be incredibly easy.
âOnce we decided to do it, we swallowed our pride and paid the huge amount of money. “
âThe whole process with canceled flights, canceled tests and chartering a plane. I would say the total will probably be close to NZ $ 40,000.