Self-isolation rules need to go as soon as possible if New Zealand is to remain an attractive travel destination for international airlines.
This warning comes from the Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand (BARNZ), off the back of the Government's five-stage border reopening plan.
BARNZ executive director Justin Tighe-Umbers said that some airlines had already stopped flying to New Zealand and more could follow.
"Self-isolation requirements need to go as soon as possible, or some airlines will cut New Zealand from their routes for a third summer in a row," he said.
"The end of February is when airlines will assign planes to routes where there is some hope of financial recovery."
"The airlines have told me they want to fly here, but they need to know New Zealand is open to business. Leisure and business travellers will not come if they have to self-isolate for days – it's a market killer."
Tighe-Umbers said the loss of international tourism had hit the New Zealand economy hard over the past two years.
"This country used to bring in $17 billion from international tourism," he said.
"By 2021 this had plummeted to only $1.5 billion. That's more than $15 billion of value that's taken years to create gone for New Zealand businesses, taking livelihoods and wellbeing with it.
"Every day counts for the people running these businesses and the people who work for them. It's essential that New Zealand opens quarantine-free the minute our Omicron risk is the same as the rest of the world."
He called on New Zealand to follow the growing number of international countries that were opening their borders to quarantine-free entry for fully vaccinated travellers.
"The United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and a growing number of EU countries are all allowing quarantine-free entry to qualified, fully vaccinated, foreign travellers," he says.
Under the Government's opening strategy, the border would only be fully open to travellers from around the world by October this year.