Ditch the pre-dep tests

Ditch the pre-dep tests

Bringing the reopening of New Zealand’s border forward for all-comers to 31 July means passengers can finally book with certainty airlines say.

It also means that they can put the final pieces of the puzzle together in terms of routes and capacity for flights to New Zealand.

However, Justin Tighe-Umbers, executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand (BARNZ), says his members want pre-departure testing gone as soon as possible. Pre-departure testing has been left, for now, as a requirement for all visitors until 31 July with a “maybe” that it might go sooner.

‘It is good that the Government has recognised pre-departure testing no longer remains an effective tool for managing Covid,’ Tighe-Umbers says.

‘But in reality, Government may not be able to keep it anyway, because testing capacity is rapidly drying up around the world.

‘Already passengers are reporting having to spend half a day, crossing cities to get tests done under great stress, to meet the pre-departure timing requirements. That is in places like Australia and Singapore.

‘It is not going to be sustainable for much longer. It needs to go as quickly as possible, certainly by the end of this month.”

BARNZ says reopening the border to Pacific Island Forum countries on 16 May, work visas from 4 July and all visitors, including student visa from 31 July will more than double the number of 60 visa waiver countries from which people are currently allowed to come to NZ.

‘It’s an important step for airlines to rebuild their global connectivity,’ Tighe-Umbers says. ‘It brings India back into the equation and allows the possibility for Chinese visitors once their border opens.’

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