Australia-New Zealand travel bubble off to a small start

The restart of travel across the Tasman begins with a one-way flow from NZ to Australia, and quarantine for returning Kiwis.

By David Flynn, October 2 2020
Australia-New Zealand travel bubble off to a small start

The long-awaited 'trans-Tasman bubble' between Australia and New Zealand is starting to take shape, and will launch on October 16 with quarantine-free inbound travel from New Zealand into New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

“We want to open Australia up to the world, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told reporters. “This is the first part of it.”

McCormack added that any state or territory which agrees to the Commonwealth's hotspot definition will be allowed to join the bubble to accept Kiwi travellers and their tourism dollars.

Qantas and Jetstar will initially offer flights on the Sydney-Auckland and Sydney-Christchurch routes, with additional routes to follow as more states open up.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce welcomed the announcement, saying "the first phase of a travel bubble with New Zealand is the best news the industry has had in months" – and for the airline, "it means we’ll be able to get more planes back in the sky and more of our people back to work."

However, Virgin Australia says it remains "commercially reliant on two-way passenger traffic, therefore our approach to reintroducing services between Australia and New Zealand will ultimately be driven by customer demand."

"We’ll continue to review our network and reintroduce short-haul international services where demand and border restrictions allow us to."

Meanwhile, Kiwis who've hopped the pond to visit Australia will still have to quarantine for 14 days on their return home.

New Zealand, which eliminated local community transmission earlier this year and swiftly brought a more limited outbreak in Auckland under control, is keeping its border shuttered, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urging Kiwis to spend their tourist dollars in New Zealand instead.

McCormack also said that letting New Zealanders enter Australia without hotel quarantine would in turn help allow more Australians stranded overseas to return home.

"The establishment of quarantine-free travel to Australia from New Zealand will free up space and this is a really important point for around an additional 325 passengers a week to enter quarantine in Sydney."

"So that by freeing up those 325 places, that means that more Australians from more destinations overseas can indeed then fill that 325 vacancies."

Additional reporting by Bloomberg.

PREVIOUS [October 1, 2020] Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested NSW could be among the first states to open a 'travel bubble' with New Zealand without the need for mandatory hotel quarantine.

Speaking on Adelaide's FiveAA radio on Thursday morning, the Prime Minister said that South Australia was also a likely starter for a new state-by-state approach to re-opening travel across the Tasman.

"I would see South Australia as well as NSW in the front end of that arrangement because they've both taken their borders down," he said.

However, states which keep their borders closed – including Queensland and Western Australia – would not be considered for the COVID-free air corridor between the two island nations.

"For states who still have borders up and are insisting on quarantine for people, say, in Sydney to go to Brisbane, we can't have people from New Zealand coming in and taking up those [hotel quarantine] places for Australians coming home [from overseas]," Morrison stated.

The on-again, off-again bubble

Plans for a trans-Tasman travel bubble began to take shape in May, when Morrison described the two counties as being on "similar trajectories" in tackling COVID-19, said.

"If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that's New Zealand," he noted at the time.

However, subsequent outbreaks in Melbourne, Sydney and then Auckland put those plans on the back-burner, and the focus began shifting to more defined 'air bridges' such as certain states in Australia and potentially only New Zealand's South Island.

The Prime Minister today reiterated that a first step in restarting trans-Tasman travel would be one-way, for New Zealanders visiting approved Australian states, with a reciprocal arrangement to follow soon after.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is facing a general election on October 17, remarked this week that two-way bubbles could be in place before the end of the year.

"What we would need to be assured of is that when Australia is saying 'okay we've got a hotspot over here' – that the border around that hotspot means that people aren't able to travel into the states where we are engaging with trans-Tasman travel," she told TVNZ.

Also read: Singapore opens to visitors from Australia from October 8

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 116

Good. Let the rational states move on with life. Queensland and WA have always been backward states so if they want to keep their borders closed forever so be it. But don't hold the rest of the country back from living in a Covid safe way. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 155

What a divisive comment

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 97

It may be divisive but these states that have borders closed with no rational reason are divisive to Australia. I have no issue with borders being closed if there’s a reason (ie to Melbourne currently), but premiers Keeping borders closed for political reasons and putting it on their CMOs is totally inappropriate

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 777

Government is correct to say to Tas, WA and Qld that if you are not prepared to open up to other states, you are not prepared to open up period.  The political stunts by provincial premiers have to stop.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1039

KW72 I am not sure with what you mean by a COVID safe way as you seem to disagree with most restrictions.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 Aug 2020

Total posts 7

While a state is closed to Australians it MUST not be allowed to have international visitors unless the Federal Government agrees.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 180

At 1/3 of NZ expats live in QLD (about 180k) as compared to the second most state NSW (20% 110k), so the most relevant and most affected are in the sunshine state.

Grassroot political pressure will not work since.... they can’t vote in the upcoming state election!

But surely it must make sense that internal borders should come down before external ones

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 361

I guess we QLDer will just have to transit in ADL. 

THR
THR

20 Sep 2012

Total posts 68

Like they won’t have thought about that. Plus criminal penalties should dissuade you.

I'm not sure about a pre Christmas bubble being established. NZ won't agree to a bubble if Australia changes, as is being raised by Morrison, from a controlled hotel quarantine system to a home quarantine without a lot of controls. It's evident the number of Covid19 returnees testing positive will increase given the second wave in Europe. 12 positives in NZ isolation today at day 3 testing highlights this risk and Ardern won't risk this. Any repeat of a Melbourne or Auckland outbreak forcing people into a lockdown at Christmas and NY is untenable. Furthermore the NZ domestic travel market is holding up well as international spend has been diverted to local. Australia opening up to NZ state by state or to the South Island only is absurd. Sort out Australian state issues first before NZ.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 272

Sydney is Australia’s main arrival point anyway so smart to start there, Victoria has its own issues anyway and Qld is a pathetic joke at the moment so the federal Govt should focus on Sydney and pax can move on from there if other states allow.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1039

GBRG not sure you got your assessment from Qld from they have mantle whole thing very well up there with WA, SA and the ACT, Tassie had a scare to big to forget. NSW had its disaster a bit before Vic.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 Aug 2020

Total posts 7

However Queensland likes to think its a sovereign state but it’s not. 

Go scomo keep them locked in Queensland and WA. Under no circumstances can they let international visitors in while Australians are denied. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1039

Antsyd I presume you also in Tasmania in your calculations.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 Aug 2020

Total posts 7

Yes but it gets forgotten all the time. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Aug 2017

Total posts 18

The only thing keeping the Queensland border closed is Jobkeeper - the Qld govt scoring political points on the back of federal government. Palachook, the tuckshop hag will soon get a reality check as the support is withdrawn.

07 May 2020

Total posts 61

Just a weekly blowing of a usual hot air topic by Scomo. He rotates the following fictions in regular order, only for each of them to blow away shortly thereafter: 1. Vaccine savour shortly 2. Travel bubble shortly 3. Open borders between states shortly 4. Job rebound shortly 5. Manufacturing surge shortly 5. Economic recovery shortly. Did I forget anything? Let's see what the next topic will be after his latest rant (v 2.0) of the travel bubble will be.

07 May 2020

Total posts 61

Globalflyer...the actual statistics for positive covid cases amongst returning travellers is less than one (0.85) on average per 100 for the past 7 months. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1039

GoRobin at 1% of 4000 is 40 per week if they each spread to 20 then it quickly gets out of hand.

07 May 2020

Total posts 61

Yes, but every infection in the community is a 100% chance of a possible transmission. But they are not locked up in medi hotels. I presume that people living in the burbs who get infected are much much more honest and trustworthy than people who arrive back on an aircraft. The hypocrisy reeks of fascism and discrimination.

07 May 2020

Total posts 61

And patrickk...why do you quote an R rate of 20 for returning travellers when the government quotes an R rate of less than 1?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1039

Simple the government quoted r rate is for the country not for returning travellers. Lockdown quarantine etc is to make sure those who have it don’t spread it. If there was open slather as some suggest th R rate would be much much  higher. From experience and genome tests one positive has spread it to many. Remember the wedding in NSW one American guest spread it to 30. Same with Auckland more recently  hence the term superspreader 

07 May 2020

Total posts 61

Sorry patrickk...you are talking nonsense. Why would a returning traveller in home isolation have a higher R rate than an infected citizen in the burbs who also has to self isolate. You make no sense, hence nonsense.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1039

GoRobin I agree with you the potential for anybody spreading is the same. The crossroad hotel outbreak was from one person from Victoria hence borders shut. It the infection rate was 1% in the population we would be in big trouble (and we would have harsh lockdown) but it is 1% in returning travellers hence the different approach. I agree with self isolation as long as it can be monitored and enforced. There are enough people breaking the self isolation rules, particularly returning travellers early on, who seem to have a burning desire to see their friends or relatives. The big issue with self isolation in my mind is how to control visitors.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1039

GoRobin today Madrid has close to 1% of the population infected and is going to full lockdown.

11 Jul 2020

Total posts 55

Great we will have a NZ and Australian bubble. I wish he would talk about the government's plan to bring stranded Aussie's back home and put that plan in motion. He has not given us a  timeframe how long this will take to achieve. Somehow I dont think they will all be home it time for Christmas he has other priorities and stranded Aussie's are low on  the list with this government or they simply don't care.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 272

Not enough capacity in the quarantine system to bring many more home unfortunately, capacity has only been lifted by a few hundred as that is all the state governments will commit too. The states just simply will not commit the people to monitor effectively and the ADF will be scaling back its involvement as it has other commitments. If Qld and WA stopped manning worthless borders they could commit resources to bringing more people home.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 116

Agreed. And once again NSW taking the majority of people (and even more so after Oct 16), whilst Queensland, Victoria and WA not pulling their weight as per usual. 

11 Jul 2020

Total posts 55

Well GBRGB Scotty was talking about home quarantine so I guess their isnt a limit as to how many Aussie can cond home in a timely fashion. There are that many hotel rooms empty around Australia that could take returning Australians  on a fortnight rotation if they needed to isolate and use the ADF to oversee the quarantine process, it's a federal government issue and responsibility. Let's face it the ADF dont really have any pressing jobs to do with the international borders closed and with the ADF overseeing then Quarantine process then there can be no blame game if it goes pear shaped. But like I said this government doesn't care about it Australian citizens unless they are wealthy.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 272

Ignorance is bliss I see, , you obviously have no idea how the ADF works, The ADF is not a people minding service, they are not trained to sit around hotels holding people’s hands, there is a heavy list of commitments in the new year for the ADF and a heavy schedule of training requirements to ensure competencies are achieved before these commitments. The federal Govt has been open with the states that from next year the ADF support will not be there in the same capacity it has been, and the states have plenty of time to make arrangements themselves if they want to continue maintaining these pointless borders. 

11 Jul 2020

Total posts 55

And they can be utilised for this task. Is not as if they have to do this for the next 5 years. It's a  bloody short term measure for a maximum of 12 weeks if the federal government  gets on with the task. I for one are sick and tired of excuses after excuses. We have at least 6 international airports around the country. The federal government has had 5 months now to devise a plan to bring our stranded Aussie's home and what have they done, f all. Like I have said  before, the Liberal/National Federal government is a reactive government  always behind the 8 ball not a Proactive government with any planning foresight.

11 Jul 2020

Total posts 55

We have a total of 85,000 ADF personnel in Australia.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 180

One one way Federal govt approved travel bubble coming up for NSW, NT

Enough for QF start to fly trans Tasman? I think not.

And still no back door way for Australians to escape the outgoing restrictions via NZ

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 180

And as the bubble becomes clear... it’s as much a bubble as Singapore is opening up to Australian travellers!

Kiwis who travel under this bubble still need to quarantine when they return to NZ!

Definitely not the kind of two way free travel the original idea of “travel bubble” conjure up in many people 

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 116

Not a travel bubble until it is two ways, but better than no steps at all. Glad to see the nation moving ahead and not being held back by the backward states. Comments from WA in the past few days show the government prefers to be engaged in hubristic behaviour rather than focusing on rational health advice.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 155

So isnt NZs stance the same as WAs......?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1039

Indeed three elections coming up in constituencies who have closed borders NZ, Qld, and WA what a coincidence! The ACT is the odd one out with voting started and nary a COVID border scare campaign beyond, pushing for cross border flights to anywhere we can.

patrick

u forgot to mention election USA in about a month. In the very unlikely event that that dodgy senile bloke(which one?) becomes potus, wonder what difference that will make to USA international borders ? Thinking all state borders in USA are open & none were closed except Hawaii, which is opening up again in less than 2 weeks.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 777

AU Government won't allow US to be open to Australians for months, probably over a year unless a efficacious vaccine happens comes earlier.  The US has shown itself as hopeless in containing the virus and the Australian Government won't be allowing visitors from US until this changes.  Returning travellers from US will remain having to pay for hotel quarantine though hopefully better testing allows this to be reduced to 7-10 days.

If Biden gets in, this may change but the whole country has shown itself to be pretty dysfunctional so I doubt even he will be able to sort out the mess.

10 Aug 2020

Total posts 16

Is the Australian government serious to let foreign nationals come and go as they please and Australian citizens can't leave.. what did we do wrong as citizens beside being born in Australia.. if they allow kiwis to visit here they should not be allowed to leave just like us Australian tax paying citizens can't.. they should have to apply for a ridiculous exemption aswell... Australia has serious issues.. I'm at the point of being ashamed to say I'm Australian... just open the borders for all and learn to live with it.. please Don't force me to vote Labor scomo..

07 May 2020

Total posts 61

Any proposed travel bubble will be quickly popped when the lawmakers try to make it happen. The federal laws are so disconnected from state laws that any attempt at a travel bubble will burst. It is the federal law that currently prevents non citizens and non residents from entering the country. The federal government will have to amend this draconian law. Even if they do, it is the various state governments that have also enacted their own individual health orders either preventing any non state residents from entering their territory, and/or requiring quarantine at no notice. So this is never going to work. So ZERO chance of travel bubbles. These various governments need to repeal all their draconian laws in unison before their will ever be any kind of free movement or travel, be they even bubbles. In the meantime we just have to accept that we now live in a quasi dictatorship.

scomo needs to show some balls & declare marshall law & so thereby disregarding anything states say or do.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1039

regular I think you mean 'martial' law; and why would he do it as then he would have to run the whole system and as the feds are showing with federally run aged care managing corona isn't sco-mo's strong point.

07 May 2020

Total posts 61

I doubt that scomo could even organise a pandemic in a petri dish.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 306

i hope two way for south australia is allowed soon.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 116

This article needs to be corrected.

Qantas had six flights per week to Auckland and four to Christchurch but will only be operated two per week to Auckland. Christchurch has not and will not commence.

It seems Qantas deliberately added capacity to bait people into handing over cash then cancelled flights last minute. And now customers can’t get their money back for over four months. Being reported in the press in NZ.

Unfortunately seems this doesn’t make mention in Australia due to the continued bribery of the press by Qantas (Chairman’s Lounge, mystery flight junkets etc)


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