Gateway city: In spite of setbacks, Australia is determined to have a Singapore travel agreement by the end of the year. Photo / 123RF
In spite of the current state of the Transtasman bubble, Australia has said it is determined to open its borders to Singapore by the end of the year.
But what does this mean for New Zealand and other countries with adjacent safe travel agreements, such as the Cook Islands?
Speculation that a safe travel bubble with Singapore may be imminent was fuelled last week by Air New Zealand’s international flight scheduling update.
As well as a return to three flights a week for popular US ports – San Francisco, Honolulu and Los Angeles – Singapore saw a huge increase in capacity for Summer.
Auckland is scheduled to gain weekly flights to Changi Airport from October 31. By the end of November Christchurch Airport is set to gain five direct Singapore flights a week.
This huge uptick in capacity led many to believe the national carrier was jumping the gun.
Air New Zealand was quick to dismiss inside knowledge of a potential Singapore Bubble, saying that these flights were part of the extended ‘Maintaining International Air Connectivity’ MIAC programme.
Seats on these routes are being subsidised in part by cargo freight and the Government scheme to keep air links afloat which otherwise would be unviable.
“Nearly 75,000 people have returned to New Zealand on flights supported by the scheme” said Transport Minister Michael Wood, who announced the latest round of the scheme in May.
53 per cent of the total number of people to pass through MIQ facilities have entered the country on these subsidised MIAC air links.
However, this summer schedule anticipates both that the MIAC scheme will be extended ( the current funding ends in October ) and that there will be a dramatic increase in demand for international travel between Singapore and New Zealand.