National | Air New Zealand

Thousands of friends and whānau ready to cross ditch

A wave of friends and whānau are expected to cross the ditch on Monday when New Zealand opens its borders to quarantine-free travel with Australia.

“The accumulation of the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble and the start of the Kiwi school holidays has created a real sense of momentum and energy about the whole airline," said Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran.

“We estimate that three-quarters of our passengers crossing the ditch will be family and friends reuniting with loved ones."

Foran said 5200 passengers are booked to fly between the countries on Monday, with 3100 headed to Aotearoa.

“For the first time in a year, we’re rolling out the red carpet for our Aussie cousins."

Air New Zealand has 30 flights on Monday which it says will build to more than 300 flights a week during the New Zealand and Australia school holidays in July.

Sky Tower in Auckland will shine green and gold on Sunday night in anticipation of the first quarantine-free flights from Australia.

Photo / Supplied

SkyCity CEO Michael Ahearne said they are "thrilled to welcome our Australian family, friends and visitors to New Zealand again. It’s an exciting time for both countries to kickstart tourism at a time when it is needed more than ever."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the travel bubble earlier this month saying it would help reconnect whānau.

“One sacrifice that has been particularly hard for many to bear over the past year has been the separation from friends and family who live in Australia, so today’s announcement will be a great relief for many."

However, the prime minister said there were no guarantees travel would be disruption-free. “People will need to plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted if there is an outbreak."

The government says it has "worked hard" to ensure travel will be safe.

“To be eligible to travel to or from New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight, people must not have had a positive Covid-19 test result in the previous 14-day period and must not be awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test taken during that period,” said Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

“When those in Australia decide to come to New Zealand, they will be making a booking on a green zone flight. That means that there will be no passengers on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days. They will also be flown by crew who have not flown on any high risk routes for a set period of time."