April seemed to come and go in a flash and there was a heck of a lot to take in. From the trans-Tasman bubble finally taking off to half-price flights going gangbusters, 1800 new Flight Centre Captains and the end of JobKeeper, here’s your refresher of our top-ranked news of the month.
I can’t work out if the first four months of 2021 feels like five years or two weeks. Either way, my calendar suggests another month has passed and my inbox suggests a lot has been going on.
Now, you’re probably juggling a whole heap of things and Karryon gets it’s hard to stay in the know all the time, so here we are, introducing our new ‘In Case You Missed It’ feature, bringing the biggest stories from April to you in small digestible pieces.
So grab a cuppa, sit yourself down, remind yourself of how far we’ve all come, and give yourself a pat on the back for being awesome.
Trans-Tasman Bubble opening
The biggest and best news for the month was the trans-Tasman bubble agreement between Australia and New Zealand taking off.
The handbrake on travel will mean thousands of Kiwis and Australians can now head across the ditch and was warmly welcomed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“It is truly exciting to start quarantine-free travel with Australia,” Ms Ardern said. “Be it returning family, friends or holidaymakers, New Zealand says welcome and enjoy yourself.”
Karryon founder Matt Leedham hopped onboard the first Qantas flight from Sydney to Auckland to experience the occasion firsthand. You can read all about his trip here.
“I feel teary. This is immense. I think of those on board who are already on their way to reunite with loved ones and can only imagine how much they must be bursting with excitement.”
Matt Leedham, Karryon Founder
Thanks to the bubble, last week Air New Zealand celebrated its busiest day since closing its borders as a result of the global pandemic.
Leeanne Langridge, Air New Zealand General Manager Cabin Crew said “It’s amazing to see so many customers getting out across Aotearoa and Australia to enjoy Air New Zealand’s world-class customer experience.”
Oh, and speaking of Air New Zealand, if you’re an agent you can bag yourself two for one flights to jet off on your very own bubble adventure.
- Hooray For Bubbles: Quarantine-Free Trans-Tasman Travel Is Officially Open
- Aussies Being Warned: Trans-Tasman Bubble Is Not An Escape Route
- What A Week: Everything You Need To Know About The Trans-Tasman Bubble
Flight Centre’s new Captain
April also saw Flight Centre launch a new campaign called ‘There’s Nowhere We Haven’t Been’ which has been rolled out across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and South Africa and aims to showcase the power of its collective Captains of travel expertise.
There was also a huge change for the brand, as they retired the old Captain and brought in a new main Captain.
And the new main Captain is none other than Flight Centre’s very own Tom Walley, who will now appear alongside a whole 1,800 strong crew of Flight Centre Australia experts sharing a total of 14,130 years of experience as co-captains.
After we shared the news our notifications wouldn’t stop buzzing with likes, loves and messages about Flight Centre’s new era.
Aside from a little bit of disappointment around George Clooney not making it as the new Captain (could you imagine?!) readers were super stoked about the exciting news.
“I love that it is a representation across the business. Whilst our amazing consultants are at the forefront of service and expertise, it takes people across the company to deliver the entire experience.”
The struggles of being a Travel Agent
April has devastatingly seen more good people in the travel industry lose their jobs or close their businesses through absolutely no fault of their own.
If you’re one of the unlucky ones, you might find some comfort in reading this article, written with the hope that these words at least bring you some solace and perspective to help you move forward.
- Your knowledge of the world and how it all fits together cannot be replicated.
- Your passion, creativity, care and energy for making people’s dreams come true can never be automated.
- Your networks, connections and friendships will never be broken.
- Your incredible memories of all that you’ve been lucky enough to experience (so far) in travel will stay with you forever.
We also spent a significant amount of time waiting on further government support for travel agents, which never came in the ways we thought it might.
Mid-month, eligibility details were released by Austrade on Round Two of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program, which aims to provide $130 million of support funding to “travel agents and tour providers who continue to provide refunds and hold credits for Australian consumers unable to travel internationally.”
Yet, a start date for applications other than ‘in late April’ has still not been announced.
Airlines, on the other hand, were happy with the government’s $1.2 billion aviation and tourism rescue package which will provide an estimated 800,000 half-price airfares for key areas to help more Australians ‘Holiday Here This Year’.
- ‘Half-Price Flights Here This Year’: $1.2b Tourism Rescue Package Announced
- Roaring Trade: 600,000 Half-Price Flights Snapped Up In 3 Weeks
- “Deeply Disappointed”: Victoria Tourism Calls For Flight Scheme Changes
- Record-Breaking: Virgin Australia Half-Price Flights Go Gangbusters
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) also announced that CEO Darren Rudd will leave the organisation, citing personal reasons. No timings for Mr Rudd’s departure were given in the release, nor whether a permanent replacement will be appointed.
New six-star hotel coming to Sydney
Sydney’s luxury hotel boom is well in truly in motion and there is a currently unnamed six-star skyscraper hotel in the pipeline.
If approved, the $800-million development will boast 240 six-star hotel rooms, and 16 high-end apartments, just a hop, skip and a jump from Circular Quay.
The 47-storey hotel and high-end apartment complex, complete with… wait for it… a rooftop infinity pool, will have unparalleled views of the Harbour, Bennelong Point and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Guests who enjoy the finer things in life will be flocking to enjoy a luxe city break in Sydney when this one opens.
On the subject of city breaks, there’s a bunch of cool stuff happening in Australia over winter. Get involved!
- Lumos! The Countdown Is On Until Vivid Sydney Lights Up Your Life
- Crazy, Mad, Beautiful Moments Await In Tasmania This Winter
- Rug Up & Get Down To Melbourne’s Favourite Winter Playground
Okay, so no one really knows what’s going on here, apart from the fact they’re still CLOSED. (Except to NZ, obvs.)
Will they be opening in October 2021, or 2024? Not a clue. However, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has derided the federal health minister’s warning that mass vaccination won’t lead to the opening of the borders as “the biggest load of rubbish I ever heard”.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt cautioned that international borders could stay closed even if the whole country were vaccinated. Gladys Berejiklian echoed the travel industry’s sentiment with her eloquent response.
Qantas is still holding on to their October/November 2021 goal for the resumption of international flights, so we’ll keep our fingers and toes crossed for that.
There have been loads of positive signs of travel going back to normal this month, with the potential for a Hong Kong – Singapore travel bubble and the resumption of some European Cruises, among other things.
Vaccinated Americans should also be able to travel to Europe this summer too, which is great news for tourism-reliant countries like Spain, Italy, and Greece.
Touring companies are releasing new trips and airlines are putting more planes back in the sky and standing up more workers.
- Virgin Australia 2.0: More Boeing 737s & Crews To Return To Skies
- From The Big Banana To Brisvegas: Qantas Launches New Route
- Desire For More: Save Up To $2,600 With Viking’s Explore More Campaign
Oh, and Disneyland California reopens today!
Here’s to May, let’s hope it’s a good one.
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