Daniel Eggenberger Daniel Eggenberger

TN: ‘Don’t miss Pacific bubble opp’

New Zealand will miss an important opportunity to travel safely if a South Pacific bubble doesn't open soon, according to Daniel Eggenberger, general manager of Air Tahiti Nui.

Tahiti is opening to visitors from 15 July, with pre-departure health checks required by visitors.

‘It will not be necessary for visitors to quarantine in Tahiti, says Eggenberger. ‘Still, they will be required to adhere to strict health protocols that will include compulsory Covid-19 testing 72 hours before departure and again, four days after arrival.’

He says these practices will support the decision of French Polynesia to open its borders while protecting the health and safety of the nation’s residents and visitors.

‘The necessity of New Zealand to open its borders to French Polynesia and other South Pacific Islands in a managed and responsible way is key to helping an already struggling airline and tourism sector from downsizing further or even closing operations in New Zealand altogether.

‘In our case, we can resume flights to Europe and the US as early as July yet our flights to Auckland are pretty much on ‘auto cancel’. As capacity is deployed to markets that start opening their borders, it is questionable how long we can justify the costs of our regional headquarters in Auckland.

‘The longer the borders are closed, the higher the risk that international airlines will have to close their offices in New Zealand, which would necessitate further job losses throughout the entire local supply chain.’

He says the recent two Covid-19 cases which were brought to New Zealand from the UK show how important it is to strictly follow the protocols and test prior to arrival and during the stay. ‘I have full confidence that the identified health protocols in French Polynesia are strictly followed.

‘It’s time to take the next step in Covid recovery. This means opening the borders to French Polynesia and other South Pacific Islands that have successfully extinguished Covid-19 or evaded the pandemic altogether.’


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