The TransTasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand is ending tonight. The travel corridor, set up in mid-April, allowed Australians and New Zealanders to travel quarantine-free between the two countries. However, following the fresh waves of COVID-19 in Australia, New Zealand pulled the plug on Friday for at least the next eight weeks.
New Zealand is ending the travel bubble with Australia at 23:59 (Auckland time) on Friday, 23rd July 2021.
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, on Friday, said:
There are now multiple outbreaks, and in differing stages of containment, that have forced three states into lockdown. The health risk to New Zealanders from these cases is increasing.
Quarantine-free flights to New Zealand ending tonight
While flights between Australia and New Zealand can continue, quarantine-free flights will not. New Zealand has already paused quarantine-free flights between New South Wales and New Zealand & Victoria and New Zealand. However, flights originating from other Australian states could carry passengers under so-called ‘green flight’ quarantine-free provisions.
Also, Australia continues to allow New Zealanders to enter and bypass the 14-day hotel quarantine stay.
We’ve always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. Now is the time for a suspension to ensure New Zealanders aren’t put at undue risk from COVID-19 and to ensure we retain our hard-won gains.
Just 3 months into the bubble
The travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand is ending just 3 months after it had started. The bubble was almost a year in the making and subject to constant setbacks. When it got underway in April, airlines from both the sides were extremely happy, anticipating brisk business between Australia and New Zealand.
Qantas and Air New Zealand benefitted from the travel bubble the most. There was an initial rush of traffic, mostly Kiwis keen to get out of Australia and people desperate to visit family and friends. However, after that initial rush, passenger traffic stabilised to lower than expected levels to trim schedules.
Virgin Australia got lucky with this. The airline decided to refrain from flying to New Zealand and concentrate on their home turf. Today, that decision means Virgin Australia has one less problem to deal with.
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Bad for Qantas and Air New Zealand
Today’s announcement of the suspension of the travel bubble is bad news for Qantas and Air New Zealand. While Air New Zealand still operates a few international flights elsewhere, Qantas’ entirety of schedules international operations is to New Zealand.
Both Qantas and Air New Zealand are yet to release formals statement on today’s news, but both airlines will slash their remaining services.
Additionally, the government of New Zealand advises there will be managed return flights for New Zealanders originating in all Australian states and territories over the next seven days. All passengers will need proof of a negative COVID-19 pre-departure test.
Furthermore, passengers originating in Sydney will have to go into managed quarantine for 14 days regardless of COVID-19 status. Passengers from Melbourne must self-isolate upon return and have a negative day three test.
Other than that, all the passengers on managed flights originating in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, ACT, and Norfolk Island can enter New Zealand subject to certain requirements and move freely around.
The New Zealand government advises that these flights will be open to New Zealand citizens and holders of residence class visas. Holders of New Zealand issued temporary visas, and Australian citizens, who last departed New Zealand after 5th April 2021, can also travel on these flights. In addition to this, the New Zealand Government remains open to extending the managed flight period and adding additional services if demand requires this.
Note that those flying from Australia to New Zealand on non-managed flights will have to undergo Hotel quarantine.
What do you think of New Zealand ending TransTasman bubble with Australia for the time being? Let me know in the comments section below.