Travelers wanting to book a last-minute trip across the ditch this month will find flights in short supply.
Flights from New Zealand to Australia have filled up for most of the month of May, with next to no seats available on some routes over the next two weeks.
The Air New Zealand website currently shows three flights available to book from Auckland to Sydney next week, but has no economy seats available from May 14 to 21.
The airline has no seats available from Auckland to Melbourne until May 22. From Auckland to Brisbane, there are three flights available to book between now and May 22.
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Flights out of Christchurch and Wellington are also full. There are no seats available on Christchurch to Melbourne and Christchurch to Brisbane routes between May 8 and 21, and just a few seats left from Christchurch to Sydney.
Flights from Wellington to Brisbane and Melbourne are mostly sold out for the two weeks from May 8 to 21, and to Sydney there are no seats available from May 13 to 21.
Qantas only has a handful of flights available on trans-Tasman routes between now and May 22, while Jetstar’s flights from Auckland to the Gold Coast have sold out from May 10 to 18.
For the flights that do still have seats available, prices are high. Remaining seats on Air New Zealand’s Auckland to Sydney flights start from $459, while the same route with Qantas is going for $939 over the next two weeks.
Remaining seats on Air New Zealand’s Christchurch to Brisbane flights start from $768, while from Christchurch to Sydney with Qantas starts from $930.
Air New Zealand said they were seeing “pent up demand” to reconnect with friends and family both in New Zealand and Australia.
“To help with this, we’ve added an extra 96 flights between the nations through June, an increase of approximately 20,000 seats,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“We’ve also been ramping up demand for the winter period so Aussies can enjoy our fantastic ski slopes here in New Zealand. Rest assured, we’re working hard to get our customers across the Tasman and have put on as much capacity as we can.”
Qantas is set to ramp up its schedule later this month, increasing its flights between Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne, adding more services to Christchurch, and resuming services to Wellington and Queenstown.
“We introduced trans-Tasman flights as soon as we knew the New Zealand borders were opening, and we’re ramping up services from 23 May,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
Jetstar has been approached for comment.
House of Travel chief operating officer Brent Thomas said it was evident there was still not enough airline capacity on trans-Tasman routes.
“The demand is far outstretching the supply,” he said.
“To a certain extent we have all been surprised at the strength of the rebound since the Government announced the border changes, and it’s just continuing.”
While the airlines were responding, it typically took several weeks before schedules could be updated.
The high prices were a reflection of both the lack of competition and lack of supply, Thomas said.
“As they sell the plane, pricing goes up on those last seats – people either pay it or they don’t.”
But until the New Zealand Government removed the pre-departure test requirement, other international carriers that had previously serviced trans-Tasman routes would be hesitant to return.
“It puts people off coming to New Zealand. It is a better hurdle.”
Thomas said while they were expecting “significantly greater supply” from June and July on trans-Tasman routes, customers wanting to travel still needed to be booking at least two months out.
“It’s too late for May. It’s almost too late for June,” he said.
“People looking to go in the July school holidays, they need to act, and they need to act right now.”