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Transtasman bubble: Air New Zealand’s secret weapon to nobble Qantas boss

Qantas boss Alan Joyce says his airlinehas reached a lounge deal with Air New Zealand – revealing he could have been nobbled by a gift from the Kiwi carrier.

In the spirit of “healthy competition” Air NZ boss Greg Foran had a pavlova delivered to Joyce shortly after the quarantine-free flight bubble was announced.

However, the New Zealand creation was covered in kiwifruit.

“I’m highly allergic to kiwifruit.I don’t know if he’s trying to get rid of me,” Joyce joked at a function at Sydney Airport yesterday.

Qantas would reciprocate with its own pav for Foran, designed by the airline’s food guru Neil Perry, and covered in passionfruit.

“I hope Greg’s not allergic to passionfruit.That would be a bad look.”

Joyce said Qantas had struck a deal with Air New Zealand that would allow its passengers to use the Kiwi airline’s lounges in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Qantas is taking some of its international lounges out of hibernation from Monday, the first day of the full transtasman bubble.

These include its international First lounges in Sydney and Melbourne along with its Premium Lounge in Brisbane.Because there will be fewer international passengers in total it has opened the doors of its First lounges to Platinum One, Platinum and Gold frequent flyers along with Business customers and Qantas Club members.

Qantas has scaled back slightly its transtasman network announced on April 6, largely because of weaker demand out of New Zealand than expected.

“The Kiwis, like some of the states in Australia, have probably been under the doona or duvet for too long and the demand over there is not as strong,” Joyce said.

“But as New Zealand gets cold and Queensland gets more attractive we’re probably going to get a lot more Kiwis wanting to get over to Australia and we will build up capacity and service.”

He said demand from Australia was “massive” and stronger than at the same time two years ago.

There would be more than 100 flights a week and of the 16 a day, half would be on widebody Airbus A330s and Qantas would at some stage fly its 787-9 Dreamliners across the Tasman.

“What we are doing is going back there in style and in force. A lot of airlines are cutting back on product and service – we’re investing in it and improving it from what it has been.”

Speaking in the First lounge, he said the flight information or flicker board there was locked in time for more than a year. It had stopped on March 23 last year, the day Qantas grounded its international flights.

But the airline was building up its operations quickly and the 30 aircraft once parked up on the airport’s east-west runway last year were all back in the air.

Qantas group domestic capacity is increasing beyond previous estimates to reach 90 per cent of pre-Covid levels later in the financial year and Jetstar would exceed 100 per cent due to strong leisure demand.

All Qantas and Jetstar domestic crew are now back at work.

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