New Zealand and Australia ‘travel bubble’ plans revealed

Australians will be able to register their interest for the first flights out of the country next month as plans firm for a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian reports Canberra Airport will open a register of interest today for flights between Canberra and Wellington on July 1 and 2, which have been proposed by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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The flights would be the first out of Australia since Prime Minister Scott Morrison banned international travel in an unprecedented move to stop the spread of COVID-19 in March.

Under the proposal by businesses, the first flights between Canberra and Wellington will be used as test run to ensure a trans-Tasman travel bubble will be safe for travellers.

Qantas and Air New Zealand would likely service the flights, according to the proposed plan.Source:istock

Politicians, business representatives and journalists will be on board the first flight between the capital cities. It will be followed by a regular service that will operate for several weeks before being rolled out to destinations in Australia and New Zealand, according to the plan.

Passengers boarding in Australia will be “pre-tested” to ensure they’re not unwell, while incoming New Zealand passengers will be encouraged to use the Federal Government’s COVIDSafe app.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive chair of tourism John Hart told The Australian there was huge interest in the business community for a trans-Tasman travel bubble.

“Businesses are wanting to ­escalate the Australia-New Zealand bubble because it’s just not happening fast enough to keep them in business,” he said.

“We’re not seeing domestic movements pick up quick enough, so we need the bubble to get the tourism activity.”

The proposal would see a return of trans-Tasman flights, starting with a route between Canberra and Wellington (pictured). Picture: iStockSource:istock

The move would be critical in helping revive New Zealand’s struggling tourism industry, the New Zealand Herald reports. Australia is New Zealand’s largest source of overseas arrivals, with 1.5 million Australian visiting the country in 2019.

However, with the Federal Government’s focus on easing domestic restrictions, flights to New Zealand could still be months away.

“While I want this to happen as soon as possible, I wouldn’t quite put a timeline on it yet,” Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told The Australian.

“New Zealand is the first and, right now, the only international market that we could safely and easily agree to open up to.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cautioned people on both sides of the ditch to not get too excited yet, despite the overwhelming “enthusiasm” to get the trans-Tasman bubble going.

The Australian and New Zealand governments have flagged interest in a trans-Tasman travel bubble but have urged caution about moving too quickly. Picture: James D. Morgan/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“Obviously what we want to do is make sure that we’ve got all of that border work in place, that we are ready to go when we have agreement on both sides of the Tasman that it is safe to proceed,” she said, according to Radio New Zealand.

“One of the conversations we’ve had is that we’ve perhaps had a little bit more time to see what is happening with our efforts to stamp out COVID with eased restrictions.

“Australia in some cases is just getting into that, so I’d say good work is taking place and it won’t be too long before we will be ready.”

Last week, Mr Hart from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry told overseas trips to New Zealand from next month were “possible” but still “aspirational”.

“From our point of view, July 1 is possible,” Mr Hart said. “We can be ready by then for New Zealand visitors.

“We want to put that marker down of July 1, so if industry is called on as part of a bubble we will be ready … but this can only happen if health advice can happen and government restrictions can happen. So there’s a lot of things to go right for the bubble to happen.”

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