To a huge sigh of relief heard in airline and travel industry offices around Australia and New Zealand, the first flights of the new Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble took off on Friday.
While the flights are limited in number and allow only one-way quarantine-free travel, there is widespread hope that this will be the start of much greater things and signal a slow reopening of international travel.
For an airline such as Jetstar, for example, Friday’s flight represented its first international takeoff since way back in April.
Only four airlines on the route
The other airlines flying the trans-Tasman route at present are Qantas, Air New Zealand and Qatar Airways.
For the moment, though, the Travel Bubble is still very much a one-way affair, with people from New Zealand being able to fly quarantine-free into two Australian destinations.
People travelling out of Australia, though, do not have the right quarantine-free travel to anywhere in New Zealand at this stage.
NSW and NT are allowing entry
Currently only New South Wales and the Northern Territory allow travellers from New Zealand to enter without undergoing a 14-day quarantine period. Selected other states are expected to follow soon.
Australia’s Home Affairs department says passengers can travel from New Zealand to Australia quarantine-free if they have been in New Zealand for 14 days or more and not been in a designated hotspot, and are travelling to Australia on a quarantine-free flight.
”You do not need to be a New Zealand citizen to travel to Australia quarantine-free if you meet the above criteria, but you will need a valid visa to enter Australia. New Zealand citizens do not need to apply for a visa before coming to Australia,” the department says.
Airport green and red zones
On its updated website, the department notes that green and red zones have been created at airports in Australia to ensure the separation of passengers arriving on ‘quarantine-free’ flights, from other passengers who are required to enter mandatory quarantine.
”Those on a quarantine-free flight … will be guided through the green zone to complete all border clearance processes in the airport of arrival in Australia,” the update states.
The New Zealand government is on record as saying it working on setting up a two-way quarantine-free system but will only do so when it is deemed safe.