Australia and New Zealand are once again taking a one-way travel bubble, which allows quarantine-free flights from New Zealand – with a scheme expanding in the other direction.
Since Australia and New Zealand closed their borders last spring due to the Corona crisis, there has been a one-way travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand, through which New Zealanders have avoided a quarantine obligation and are still able to enter Australia. After this travel bubble has been suspended, it will now resume, with the travel bubble planned to expand in both directions. As shown by Simpleflying.
Air traffic resumption
The travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand allowed passengers to travel to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane from Auckland. After several Covid-19 infections emerged in Auckland, quarantine-free air traffic between New Zealand and Auckland has ceased and the travel bubble between the two countries has resolved. In coordination with the health authorities on February 21 Air traffic between Australia and New Zealand Resumed, which is a positive development for both countries. Travelers in the so-called Green Zone can now travel from New Zealand to Australia again without having to go through the usual 14-day quarantine.
The division into green and red zones at airports should help better divide arriving passengers in terms of the necessary 14-day quarantine or waiving the quarantine obligation. Due to the current situation, only a few flights departing from New Zealand are counted as Green Zone trips. However, formal approval can only be obtained if the government approves the health authority and strict conditions are met. Accordingly, all passengers who have been in Auckland within the 14 days prior to departure are required to provide evidence of a current PCR test. This must be done within 72 hours before departure. Moreover, containment of further spread must be ensured by continuing routine checks before departure and after landing.
Due to the current situation, air traffic between New Zealand and Australia is restricted to the destination airports, Sydney and Brisbane. Melbourne Airport will also be on the list, but it is currently excluded from air traffic because problems with quarantine management do not allow entry. Qantas Airways New Zealand and Jetstar are currently the only airlines that maintain air traffic. As a leading provider, Air New Zealnd tries to offer its passengers the majority of flights currently possible. Despite the difficult situation, the airline tries to fly to Brisbane at least three times a week and land in Sydney five times a week. According to Australian Airlines Qantas, only three flights a week on the A330-300 will depart Auckland to Sydney. Jetstar is trying to compete in the travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia with much lower capacity in the A320-200 and only one flight per week between Auckland and Sydney.
Expansion into a two-way travel bubble
The previous route from New Zealand to Australia is currently only allowing New Zealand to enter Australia. While they can even ignore the quarantine obligation, Australians don’t even get the chance to enter New Zealand in return. With the introduction of the two-way travel bubble planned, this drawback must be compensated. It is planned to expand the travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia in March. For the aviation industry, this expansion would be at least a small comfort, as only a fraction of the routes moved in 2019 can currently be offered. In addition to expanding the travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia, the creation of more travel lanes is not excluded. It is hoped that the government will implement these plans quickly in order to be able to introduce the three airlines that are currently operating normally. The resumption of the new routes this enables can bring airlines at least a small step closer to normal daily air traffic and give hope for early improvement.
Conclusion on the resumption and expansion of the travel bubble
The resumption of green zone flights and the planned expansion of the travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia represent a hopeful look at the future improvement of the situation for the operating airlines. However, it remains to be seen how long the travel bubble will last and whether one will truly be in a two-way travel bubble it will be built in the near future.
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