Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand speaks to media during a press conference in Wellington on May 27 about the Trans-Tasman ‘travel bubble’ - Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
Dhaka: Plans to open travel between Australia and New Zealand will be presented to both governments in early June, with flights set to resume as early as September, said the travel industry group working on a “Trans-Tasman bubble”.
The governments have been discussing the possibility of allowing people to travel across the Tasman without having to undergo 14 days of quarantine, given both countries have successfully slowed the rate of COVID-19 transmission.
Industry group Tourism Restart Taskforce is pushing for domestic and international flights to New Zealand and Pacific Islands to resume.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on May 27 she spoke to her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on May 26 and both were keen to move forward with the idea “as quickly as we can”.
"It won't be too long before we are ready," she said at a press conference.
The Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group - an alliance of more than 40 airports, airlines, health specialists and governments on both sides of the Tasman - has been working on a plan to restart air travel for the past two weeks and will be ready to present it to both governments early next month.
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“We are poring over every detail and aspect of the customer journey to find a safe and practical way forward, for the review and consideration of our respective governments,” said Margy Osmond, the group’s Co-chair and Chief Executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum Australia.
"We would be expecting that to commence as early as September."
In a new warning to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Morrison government said it would not allow state border bans to create an “obstacle” to allowing flights to and from New Zealand.
The plan considers passengers’ pre-flight health requirements and eligibility, protections on board planes, how passengers move through airports and contact-tracing requirements once travellers reach their destination.
New Zealand was the most popular outbound travel destination for Australians prior to COVID-19, with 1.5 million arrivals in 2019 accounting for 40 per cent of all visitors.
After China, New Zealand was the second largest source of visitors to Australia in 2019, with 1.4 million visitors accounting for 15 per cent of the arrivals into the country.