Australia will allow travellers from New Zealand to enter New South Wales and the Northern Territory quarantine free from October 16 in a first but limited trans-Tasman travel bubble. Qantas and its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar were quick to add flights to take advantage of the partial easing of travel restrictions, while Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand both cautiously welcomed the news.
Australia and New Zealand closed their borders in March to combat the spread of COVID-19 and talk of opening a trans-Tasman safe travel bubble has been much discussed ever since. For the time being, this initial easing of restrictions is a unilateral move on the part of Australia and it’s hoped the measures will free up 325 hotel quarantine spaces per week in Sydney alone.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden confirmed on Friday that the earliest date that her country could introduce a reciprocal travel bubble is Christmas at the earliest. In effect, that means anyone flying from Australia to New Zealand will still need to enter mandatory quarantine for 14-days.
Virgin Australia noted that while the news was welcome, the airline was “commercially reliant on two-way passenger traffic… therefore our approach to reintroducing services between Australia and New Zealand will ultimately be driven by customer demand” the airline commented.
Following the announcement, Qantas has already added six flights per weeks between Sydney and Auckland, and four flights per weeks between Sydney and Christchurch. Jetstar will add an additional three flights between Sydney and Auckland.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce praised the move, describing it as “the best news the industry has had in months… it means we’ll be able to get more planes back in the sky and more of our people back to work.”
After drawing up plans to open up the travel bubble, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was only able to get two states to sign up to the proposals – New South Wales and Northern Territory.
Anyone travelling from New Zealand will be able to enter Australia subject to normal border rules without the need to quarantine from October 16 so long as they have not been in a COVID-19 ‘hotspot’ within the last 14-days. A hotspot is considered anywhere where a three-day rolling average of three locally acquired cases per day has been detected.
There are currently no hotspot areas in New Zealand.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.