Australia’s flight-path to recovery is well underway with the Australian Government welcoming the New Zealand Government’s announcement that it will join the Safe Travel Zone between Australia and New Zealand.
This announcement will enable quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand on both sides of the Tasman helping to reunite families and friends and giving tourism operators a significant boost.
It follows Australia’s opening of a one-way Safe Travel Zone from New Zealand to Australia six months ago, with more than 34,000 arrivals into Australia from New Zealand during that period.
This latest major step in the resumption of international travel has only been possible due to the internationally recognised, world-leading responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by Australia and New Zealand.
The Federal Government’s decisions to close Australia’s international border early last year, declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic before the World Health Organisation did and working with the States and Territories through the National Cabinet to suppress the virus has ensured we are the envy of the world today.
The importance of this announcement is demonstrated by the fact that the Trans-Tasman route is Australia’s busiest international aviation market with more than seven million passengers in the one year ending January 2020 before the effects of COVID-19 hit international aviation.
Throughout this pandemic, the Federal Government has supported more than 40,000 flights through various programs and initiatives. As of last month, flights on common routes in Australia were at 57 per cent of the pre-COVID average, up from a low of 3 per cent at the height of the pandemic and today’s announcement by the New Zealand Government will be a further boost to Australia’s aviation industry.
The announcement also represents a major boost to our tourism industry with around 18 per cent of all international air arrivals from New Zealand annually and with visitors to Australia now having the opportunity to travel without having to quarantine at either end of their journey. In 2019, New Zealand travellers spent $1.6 billion on travel and tourism in Australia.
Should temporary restrictions need to be applied due to a COVID-19 outbreak, both countries will provide as much notice as possible to Government agencies, passengers, airlines and airport operators affected by any such measures.
Given that Australian and New Zealand airlines had already been operating under a one-way Safe Travel Zone to Australia for the past six months operating “green” flights to Australia, we are optimistic that airlines will commence additional services to meet the demand generated by the two-way Safe Travel Zone.
Australian and New Zealand government health and border officials will also continue to work together to facilitate the safe and effective introduction of the two-way Safe Travel Zone.