Australia’s travel bubble with New Zealand officially opened this morning, allowing citizens of the neighbouring nations to travel between the two countries without quarantining.
The move comes nearly 400 days after the announcement of the international travel ban that halted Australia’s tourism and travel industry in its tracks.
“Both countries have done a remarkable job in protecting our communities from COVID and two-way flights are an important step in our road out,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this morning.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was “truly exciting” to begin quarantine-free travel with Australia.
“The bubble marks a significant step in both countries' reconnection with the world, and it’s one we should all take a moment to be very proud of,” she said.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What are the AU-NZ travel routes?
There are three airlines currently servicing this travel bubble: Qantas, its low-cost carrier Jetstar, and Air New Zealand.
Qantas and Jetstar are resuming flight across all their pre-COVID destinations to New Zealand, which encompasses 15 routes, as well as a new route between Gold Coast and Auckland.
The two airlines will operate around 200 flights to and from the two nations every week.
Meanwhile, Air NZ will operate flights to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, though with different departure cities and varying departure dates
Virgin CEO Jayne Hrdlicka has said it won’t resume Kiwi flights until September, with the airline instead currently choosing to focus on shoring up its presence in the domestic market amid competition from Qantas and Rex.
You have to meet certain conditions
Australians won’t be able to travel to New Zealand without being cleared of COVID-19, of course.
You’ve spent 14 days or more in either Australia or New Zealand before your departing flight (this includes spending all 14 days in Australia or travelling from New Zealand to Australia and returning within 14 days)
You haven’t had a positive COVID-19 test in the 14 days before departing
You aren’t waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test taken in the 14 days before you depart
You don’t have any cold or flu symptoms
You don’t need to have had the COVID-19 vaccine to be eligible for travel. So far, less than 1.5 million Australians have been immunised with the vaccine in Australia as the Federal Government grapples with criticism about its delayed vaccine rollout.
When you’re in New Zealand, you’ll need to also wear face masks in certain areas, and travellers have been instructed to download the NZ COVID Tracer App before arriving in the country.
Who will the travel bubble benefit?
Aside from making international travel possible again for Aussies itching for a holiday, the travel bubble is expected to help revive the travel and tourism industry, which is struggling to find their feet even as the rest of the economy recovers.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the bubble was a “very important milestone” in the recovery from the pandemic, as well as for aviation and tourism.
“The opening of the two-way bubble is fantastic for the family and friends who are reuniting after so long apart and for the many jobs which are so heavily dependent on tourism. It means we’ll be able to get more planes back in the sky and more of our people back to work,” he said.
The airlines saw tens of thousands of bookings in the days after the bubble was first announced earlier this year, he added, with additional flights to Queenstown added to meet higher demand during peak ski season.
The aviation and tourism industry was given a $1.2 billion rescue package by the Federal Government which includes 800,000 half-price tickets.