Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble Begins on April 19

The highly anticipated quarantine-free arrangement between Australia and New Zealand will be launched less than two weeks from now.

The Lindis Pass on New Zealand’s South Island. (Photo: Eugene Quek/Unsplash)

Much to the relief of travel-starved residents on both sides of the Tasman Sea, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a definitive start date for the two-way travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand. Quarantine requirements are being dropped for all incoming Aussies — and Kiwis returning from Australia — from 11:59 p.m. New Zealand time on April 18. While masks must be worn on trans-Tasman flights and anyone with cold and flu symptoms will not be allowed to fly, it’s understood that there will be no vaccine requirement for travel. That said, Australian visitors to New Zealand must provide detailed contact information; they’ll also be asked to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app while in the country.

Ardern cautioned that travelers could be affected by snap lockdowns while abroad. “People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak,” she said at a press conference earlier today. The Prime Minister added that a short lockdown in any Australian state would be met with a pause on flights from New Zealand to that area, and multiple community infections with an unknown source would trigger the suspension of flights for a certain period of time.

Qantas and Jetstar are now preparing to ramp up the frequency of trans-Tasman services to 122 return flights each week, representing 83 percent of the Qantas group’s pre-pandemic capacity for those routes. Qantas will also be adding two new routes from Auckland to Cairns and the Gold Coast. By comparison, Air New Zealand will initially restore its seat capacity to roughly 50 percent of pre-Covid levels. According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, thousands of Kiwis are already snapping up air fares to major cities such as Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney, with other destinations such as Perth and Hobart also proving popular.

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