This morning, the long-awaited trans-Tasman bubble with New Zealand commenced giving Australians the opportunity to travel freely to New Zealand for the first time in more than a year. The first flight, JetStar JQ201 from Sydney, took off from 7.40am and a flight from New Zealand dtouched down at the Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney at 7.55am.
There were tearful welcomes as families were reunited, and there are another 30 flights scheduled today with a total of 10,000 passengers flying trans-Tasman routes.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the two-way travel bubble “shows we’re on the pathway out of COVID and back to some sort of normality” which is “going to benefit both nations”.
The government is currently “in discussions” with Singapore concerning the creation of a quarantine-free travel bubble.
At this stage, a time frame has not been given for other travel bubbles with mr McCormack stating that “initial talks” are currently underway.
“We’re having those chats, those initial chats with other countries as well, and as vaccines are rolled out here and elsewhere, these travel bubbles will be created, and as I say again, it will get us back to some sort of pre-COVID normality,” he said.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce described today as “an amazing day” with the airline bringing 630 employees back to work for the 16 flights departing Australia today.
The flights will also enable closer trans-Tasman business engagement, which will drive broader economic activity in both Australia and New Zealand.
“Today’s milestone is a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe and just in time for ANZAC Day,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“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.”
“It is truly exciting to start quarantine-free travel with Australia. Be it returning family, friends or holiday makers, New Zealand says welcome and enjoy yourself.” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
“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.”
The commencement of two-way travel follows Australia’s decision in October 2020 to allow quarantine free-travel from New Zealand.