The trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand could reopen in a week as both countries are still dealing with low coronavirus cases.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will today announce the bubble launch date, which will allow travelers to fly without going into quarantine.
The first flights are expected to start on April 12 or April 19, according to federal government and industry sources who have spoken The Australian
John Hart, head of tourism for the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the publication “the 19th was almost final.”
“That’s what the airlines have been told and they’ve already started bookings,” said Mr. Hart.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced the start date of the bubble
The trans-Tasman bubble is expected to reopen between New Zealand and Australia on April 19 (Photo: Sydney Airport passengers)
Previously, there had been speculation that the travel bubble could reopen as early as Friday, with Air New Zealand launching flights between Melbourne and Auckland on April 9.
The airline also plans to launch a new route between Auckland and Hobart when the travel bubble reopens.
Australian airlines Qantas and Jetstar are preparing to ramp up flights in time for the opening of the travel corridors.
Ms Ardern has said that no vaccination is required while traveling in the trans-Tasman bubble.
While travelers from New Zealand were able to enter some Australian states without undergoing hotel quarantine, after returning to New Zealand, they had to complete and pay for 14 days of quarantine.
When the trans Tasman bubble reopens, it will no longer be a mandatory requirement.
Ms Ardern said New Zealand will take a state-by-state approach, with only a few Australian states going to be included in the bubble.
Air New Zealand (pictured) is already offering flights between Auckland and Sydney and Melbourne from Friday, April 9. The bubble is not expected to reopen in two weeks.
The bubble allows travelers from Australia and New Zealand to travel between the two countries without going into quarantine (photo: passengers at Sydney International Airport)
New Zealanders can currently enter New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory without going into quarantine, but not Western Australia.
The decision comes after months of deliberation and pressure from her political opponents.
Ms. Ardern has run away from two previous deadlines to create the bubble.
Government officials are tinkering with plans, including regulations for airports, airlines, contacting Kiwis abroad and response protocols to Australian outbreaks.
One of the conditions of the plan is a separation of airports into ‘green zones’ for quarantine-free flights and ‘red zones’ for flights with passengers from countries with Covid in the community.
Most Australian states have allowed Kiwis to visit without the need for two weeks of hotel quarantine for months (passenger at Sydney Domestic Airport)
Air New Zealand (pictured) plans to add additional quarantine-free flights from Auckland to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane starting next week
Airport officials say they will be ready from mid-April, and health officials will inspect Auckland Airport this week to clear the country’s largest airport for departure.
The national carrier is hoping to fly from NZ’s three other international airports, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, when the bubble is announced.
Ms. Ardern’s government built tremendous credibility with Kiwis in 2020 by giving a premium to public safety during the pandemic.
More than a year after the arrival of the coronavirus in Aotearoa, New Zealanders continue to fear the return of the deadly virus.
Many don’t want a bubble, even if Australia’s hotspot model has proven effective in controlling outbreaks in local environments.
NZ first agreed to the bubble in May after Ms Ardern attended the national cabinet along with Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders.
Ms. Ardern vowed to return to normal travel by September, before the great Melbourne outbreak shattered that hope.
In her last press conference in 2020, she stated that the government’s new deadline was the end of March – to see that time frame pass again.
NZ has managed to restore pre-Covid travel for one country – the Cook Islanders – but only for residents of the closely associated Pacific nation
Jacinda Ardern’s cabinet is expected to sign an opening date for quarantine-free travel from Australia today (photo: passengers arriving from NZ at Sydney International Airport)