COVID-19: Trans Tasman bubble confirmed – starts 10pm 18 April (AEST) – travel to NZ without quarantine
Free, free at last!
In a post cabinet meeting announcement today Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister confirmed that Australians are free to travel to New Zealand without going into quarantine from 19 April (actually from 9:59 pm on 18 April).
Since October 2020, New Zealander’s have been able to enter Australia without going into 14 day mandatory quarantine (with a few suspensions for outbreaks in Auckland). However, that exemption has not been reciprocal until now.
Air New Zealand has already increased the frequency of its flights to Australia dramatically from that date. It is offering 23 return services for that first week.
Previously, it was scheduling one Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight a day at 11:40 am, then suddenly as of 19 April, it moves to 3 flights, with the 2 additional flights being flown on A320neo’s.
On some days – for example Friday 23 they have 5 flights scheduled between Auckland and Sydney.
The Air New Zealand schedule is also showing increased flights to and from other New Zealand destinations like Wellington, and even a direct flight between Auckland and Perth.
Qantas this morning only had a couple of flights a week bookable in their system on A330s:
Now you have a selection of direct flights from Sydney as well as a bunch of flights out of Melbourne and Brisbane.
Virgin Australia is showing nothing – but then they havn’t been flying to New Zealand since their re-birth under Bain ownership, post administration.
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What happens if there is a COVID-19 outbreak either end of the ‘bubble’?
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that the bubble could be suspended under certain circumstances:
“For instance, if a case is found that is quite clearly linked to a border worker in a quarantine facility and is well contained, you’d likely see travel continue in the same way as you would see life continued if that happened here in New Zealand.
If, however, the case was found that was not clearly linked to the border and the state responded by a short lockdown to identify more information, we’d likely pause flights from that state in the same way we would stop travel into and out of a region in New Zealand.”Jacinda Ardern, NZ Prime Minister
Australians travelling to New Zealand
Australians who fly to New Zealand will travel on a ‘green zone’ flight, meaning that all passengers will have been in Australia for a minimum of 14 days. Crew selection will also minimise risk:
“They will also be flown by crew who have not flown on any high-risk routes for a set period of time. Passengers will need to provide comprehensive information on how they can be contacted while in New Zealand. They won’t be able to travel if they have cold or flu symptoms.”Jacinda Ardern, NZ Prime Minister
All passengers will need to wear a mask during the flights. Arriving passengers from Australia will be segregated from other arriving passengers heading for hotel quarantine at New Zealand airports. Arrivals will also need to download the COVID Tracer app for use while in New Zealand. Arrivals will also be subject to random temperature checks at the airport.
Air New Zealand is expecting to re-open its international lounges in Australia (Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney) and in New Zealand (Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington). Qantas is yet to make an announcement on the re-opening of its international lounges.
If you are planning trans-Tasman or international travel in the next 12 months – and who isn’t? – then this is a great way to earn Gold with Air New Zealand, and for getting gold recognition on 26 Star Alliance members from Singapore Airlines and Thai to Asiana, ANA and Lufthansa.
Air New Zealand fares appear significantly lower than Qantas at the moment, in most classes, so why not save some money, and match your status? You will also travel on either their 787 or brand new A321neo’s compared to Qantas A330’s where you might have to endure the flying kangaroo’s business suite product (ironic yuk!)
It seems like it’s status match nirvana at the moment.
The New Zealand government holds cabinet meetings on Tuesdays, usually followed by a press conference to make any announcements. The press conference is usually held around 2pm Sydney time. I’ll update you then.