Australia-NZ travel bubble takes off

Noble Horvath

Mr Foran added it was a “positive step” towards opening up a larger bubble. Australia’s east coast to New Zealand is only a three- to four-hour flight. In 2019, trans-Tasman routes contributed 18 per cent of all international inbound seat capacity into Australia. Before the COVID-19 crisis, 27 per cent […]

Mr Foran added it was a “positive step” towards opening up a larger bubble.

Australia’s east coast to New Zealand is only a three- to four-hour flight. In 2019, trans-Tasman routes contributed 18 per cent of all international inbound seat capacity into Australia.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, 27 per cent of Qantas’ total international seat capacity was from New Zealand routes. For Virgin Australia, it was 46 per cent.

New Zealand has long been one of Australia’s top source markets for inbound tourists, and is the fourth-highest for spend.

Eliza Blomfield has been hoping travel between her current base in Wellington and her family’s home in Sydney will become easier before Christmas.

Paying $3000 for hotel quarantine would have made a trip to see her sisters and parents prohibitively expensive, especially as she would have had to take additional leave from work.

“There are a lot of Australians over here who are celebrating tonight,” she said.

In 2019, 1.4 million Kiwis arrived in Australia, spending $2.6 billion.

“This will be great for the family and friends who can be reunited and for people needing to travel for a job,” Mr Joyce said. “It means we’ll be able to get more planes back in the sky and more of our people back to work.”

South Australia could be the next jurisdiction to join the limited travel bubble agreed upon by Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison. Dominic Lorrimer

Australia has long been the most popular destination for New Zealanders, accounting for 40 per cent of their outbound leisure travel in 2019.

Qantas and Jetstar are preparing flight schedules across the Tasman in line with the announcement.

Qantas flagged that as more cities in Australia open up, schedules are likely to include new routes from New Zealand that the airline has not previously offered.

Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison and Tourism NZ boss Stephen England-Hall have stayed in close contact over the past few months to maximise the opportunities for both countries once the bubble opens.

“COVID-19 has created a unique moment in time with both organisations working together more than we have previously as we have shared goals and both want to achieve the best possible outcomes,” Mr England-Hall said.

Given long-haul trips to Europe and America could be off the agenda for many people for months, he pointed out “both Australia and New Zealand have the opportunity to present a world-class Australasian experience for our shared visitor markets”.

Tourism Australia is working on marketing campaigns to push into New Zealand, but this will happen once more states are involved in the bubble.

A Virgin spokesman said that as international border restrictions eased and demand for air travel returned, the company would look to reintroduce short-haul international services which were suspended in response to COVID-19.

Transport and Tourism Forum boss Margy Osmond said she hoped Australians would be allowed to travel to New Zealand as soon as next month.

She helped plan the trans-Tasman bubble, working with airports, airlines and the two governments.

“It’s the confidence factor that is so welcome, rebuilding the level of confidence in travel across the board,” she said.

In a joint statement, Mr Morrison said the government was committed to opening up low-risk travel options.

“This is the next step for a COVID-safe Australia that will reunite families and friends, offer opportunities for businesses looking for workers, and back the communities that depend on tourism,” he said.

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