The two-way Trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand will start at 23:59 on 18th April,2021.
Two-way travel bubble
In two weeks time, you will be able to travel quarantine-free between Australia and New Zealand.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today (6th April) announced that starting 19th April, the Trans-Tasman bubble will start. New Zealand’s Cabinet met on Tuesday morning (local time) to seal the deal.
Ms Ardern said that the conditions for starting to open up quarantine-free travel with Australia have been met. Ms Ardern in a new conference said:
Our team’s success in managing Covid-19 and keeping it out over the past 12 months now opens up the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and resume trans-Tasman travel.
She earlier told reporters that such a travel arrangement could be a world first:
Our public health approach has meant we are now able to take this next step, and it’s a world first. I don’t know of any other countries in the world who are maintaining an elimination strategy and opening up with another country, so it is a remarkable thing.
Local media reports that the travel bubble would restrict travellers from certain areas in the event of an outbreak in Australia and is expected to run on a state-by-state basis. New Zealand already has a travel bubble with Cook Islands.
Who is eligible to travel?
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern confirms that those who want to travel to or from New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight, must not have had a positive Covid-19 test result in the previous 14-day period and must not be awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test taken during that period.
When travellers from Australia decide to come to New Zealand, they will be making a booking on a green zone flight. This means that there will be no passengers on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days.
They will also be flown by the crew who have not flown on any high-risk routes for a set period of time.
It will be mandatory for all passengers coming from Australia to fill a pre-departure health declaration with contact details.
In case if a passenger is found with cold or flu symptoms, then he won’t be able to travel.
Throughout the journey, passengers will be required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Travellers will also be asked to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app while in New Zealand.
On arrival, travellers will be guided through the green zones at the airport – there will be no contact with those who are arriving from other parts of the world and going into managed isolation or quarantine.
There will be random temperature checks as well.
Respective airport authorities are also going to take a final call on some added arrival requirements soon.
Trans-Tasman bubble nearly a year in the making
The travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand has been nearly a year in the making. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, both countries were each other’s biggest source of international passenger movements. The two-way travel is worth billions of dollars annually to both countries.
In October 2020, Australia began allowing New Zealanders to fly to certain airports. Subject to certain requirements , they could skip the otherwise mandatory two-week quarantine. To date, New Zealand has not returned the favor. Even Kiwis returning home had to do two weeks of self-funded quarantine.
Airlines are very keen to get back to business
Before the pandemic, multiple airlines operated flights between the two countries. In addition to local carriers such as JetStar, Qantas, Air NewZealand and Virgin Australia, foreign airlines such as Emirates, Singapore Airlines and China Airlines all ran fifth-freedom flights.
We can not expect these fifth-freedom flights to resume in the near future, local airlines are keen to get back to business and get ready in anticipation of a surge in passenger demand.
Gareth Evans, CEO, JetStar, has already said New Zealand is the top of his agenda for international flights.
Let’s hope we can get that together with the Kiwis and get a New Zealand travel bubble open, and then we’ll start flying there.
Notably, JetStar will be the only low-cost carrier that will operate flights between the two countries. Virgin Australia already has some flights on sale for later this year. It is possible that the airline will bring those flights forward in order to capitalize the surge in demand and also May ramp up frequencies.
Qantas and Air NewZealand: Big winners
Leading the market share between Australia and New Zealand are Qantas and Air NewZealand.
Air NewZealand has already ramped up services to Australia later this month. The airline is now accepting bookings on those flights. The airline is returning to Australian cities they had suspended flights too and is increasing capacity and frequencies to cities they’ve continued to serve on a scaled-back basis. Air New Zealand flights to Hobart, the first scheduled international services to that city in over two decades, will also kick-off.
Air NewZealand has already announced its full schedule of resumption of flights to Australia.
Since the one-way travel bubble began in October, Qantas has operated a handful of flights each week between Sydney and Auckland. In an effort to get people to dust off their passports, Qantas is making every seat on every flight for the first three days of the travel bubble available for points redemptions.
Meanwhile, Qantas has announced plans go resume international flights in October 2021.
What do you think of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble? Let me know in the comments section below.