The trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand will reopen from April 19 as both countries continue to enjoy low coronavirus cases.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the start date of the bubble today, which will allow travellers to fly without needing to quarantine.
The first flights will take off in two weeks time, according to federal government and industry sources Australian.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry tourism chief John Hart told the publication ‘the 19th was pretty much definite’.
‘That’s what the airlines have been told and they’ve already started bookings,’ Mr Hart said.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern is set to announce the start date of the bubble today
The trans-Tasman bubble is expected to reopen between New Zealand and Australia on April 19 (pictured: passengers at Sydney Airport)
There was earlier speculation the travel bubble could reopen as early as Friday, with Air New Zealand launching flights between Melbourne and Auckland on April 9.
The airline is also planning to launch a new route between Auckland and Hobart when the travel bubble reopens.
Australian airlines Qantas and Jetstar are preparing to ramp up flights in time for the travel corridors opening.
Ms Ardern has said there will be no vaccine requirement when travelling in the trans-Tasman bubble.
While travellers from New Zealand could enter some Australian states without undergoing hotel quarantine, once they returned to New Zealand, they had to complete and pay for 14 days of quarantine.
When the trans-Tasman bubble reopens, this will no longer be a mandatory requirement.
Ms Ardern said New Zealand will be taking a state-by-state approach, with only some Australian states to be included in the bubble.
Air New Zealand (pictured) are already offering flights between Auckland and Sydney as well as Melbourne from Friday, April 9. The bubble is not expected to reopen for two weeks
The bubble will allow travellers from Australia and New Zealand to travel between the two countries without quarantining (pictured: passengers at Sydney International airport)
New Zealanders can currently enter New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory without having to quarantine, but not Western Australia.
The decision comes after months of deliberation and pressure from her political opponents.
Ms Ardern has walked away from two previous deadlines to create the bubble.
Government officials have been tinkering with plans, including regulations for airports, airlines, how to contact trace Kiwis while overseas, and response protocols to Australian outbreaks.
One of the conditions of the plan is a separation of airports into ‘green zones’ for quarantine-free flights and ‘red zones’ for flights carrying passengers from countries with Covid in the community.
Most Australian states have allowed Kiwis to visit without the need for a fortnight of hotel quarantine for months (passenger at Sydney Domestic Airport)
Air New Zealand (pictured) is planning on adding additional quarantine-free flights from Auckland to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane from next week
Airport executives say they will be ready from mid-April, and health officials are due to inspect Auckland Airport this week with a view to clearing the country’s biggest airport for takeoff.
The national carrier hopes to fly from NZ’s three other international airports, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, when the bubble is announced.
Ms Ardern’s government built enormous credibility with Kiwis in 2020 by putting a premium on public safety during the pandemic.
More than a year after the arrival of coronavirus’ arrival to Aotearoa, New Zealanders remain fearful of the return of the deadly virus.
Many do not want a bubble, even if Australia’s hotspot model has proven effective at containing outbreaks within local environments.
NZ first agreed the bubble in May after Ms Ardern attended National Cabinet, with Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders.
Ms Ardern pledged to restore regular travel by September, before Melbourne’s major outbreak quashed those hopes.
In her final press conference of 2020, she declared the government’s new deadline was the end of March – only to see that timeframe sail past again.
NZ has managed to restore pre-Covid travel for one country – the Cook Islanders – but only for residents of the closely aligned Pacific nation
Jacinda Ardern’s cabinet is expected to sign off on an opening date for quarantine-free travel from Australia today (pictured: passengers arriving in Sydney International Airport from NZ)