- The trans-Tasman travel bubble will open on April 18, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed.
- “Conditions for opening up quarantine-free travel with Australia had been met,” Ardern said Tuesday.
- But New Zealand will reserve the right to “continue, pause, or suspend” incoming flights, depending on perceived risk of COVID-19 infection crossing the Tasman.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
Two-way, quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand will resume on April 18, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed, signalling the long awaited opening of the trans-Tasman travel bubble.
Speaking in Wellington on Tuesday, Ardern said the travel bubble will open at 11:59pm NZT on Sunday, April 18, or 9:59pm AEST.
From that point, travellers arriving from Australia will not be required to undertake 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine.
Ardern said the decision came after the Cabinet of New Zealand was “presented with advice today that conditions for opening up quarantine-free travel with Australia had been met.”
The opening of the travel bubble marks “an important step forward in our COVID response and represents an arrangement I do not believe we have seen in any other part of the world,” Ardern added.
But New Zealand will reserve the right to “continue, pause, or suspend” any flights arriving from Australia, depending on the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the regions from which they depart.
Ardern said travellers departing from either side should operate under a simple premise: “Flyer beware.”
“People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak,” Ardern said.
Contained COVID-19 outbreaks which are clearly linked to Australian hotel quarantine systems may not close the bubble, Ardern said.
But if a state government enacted a short lockdown, that may cause New Zealand to pause flights from that region.
“And if we saw multiple cases of unknown origin, we would likely suspend flights for a set period of time,” Ardern said.
Air New Zealand ramps up flights while Virgin Australia holds back
Hours before the Tuesday announcement, Stuff reported the Air New Zealand website was offering an expanded list of trans-Tasman flights from April 19.
Even as New Zealand’s national carrier prepares for increased demand, Virgin Australia says the bulk of its flights to and from New Zealand will remain suspended until October 31.
“While the airline remains committed to Trans-Tasman flying when the market fully recovers, we are mindful of evolving border requirements which add complexity to our business as we push ahead with plans to grow our core domestic Australia operations,” the airline said in a statement.
More to come.
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