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The possibility of quarantine-free flights to Australia has set rekindled travellers’ wanderlust, in spite of the one-way nature of the travel arrangement.
Google searches for flights to the Northern Territory and New South Wales sates have quadrupled since the safe travel zone was announced in October.
According to a statement from the booking platform Expedia.co.nz the demand is still low but a spike in traffic looking at flight prices is “a good indication that Kiwis are eager to get on a plane and get travelling again.”
Kiwis are curious about just how much it would cost, even if they can’t commit at this moment.
Airports on both sides of the Tasman have prepared themselves for the first “quarantine-free” international flights to resume tomorrow morning. For the first quarantine-free services in 7 months, it will be a slow start with just a handful of services to Sydney from Air New Zealand, JetStar and Qantas.
Flight NZ103 departs Auckland at 10:40am. Qantas QF215 / Jetstar JQ 204 will depart for midday.
There is a cap on inbound travel to Australia at 3700 international seats a week.
“It’s been a huge undertaking to ensure we are ready for this one-way arrangement,” said Air New Zealand chief exec Greg Foran. “We know passengers onboard may have been waiting a long time to get back to New South Wales.”
The prospect of quarantine-free travel has made the service possible, but few are planning to return.
“Around 90 percent of those travelling on tomorrow’s flight are booked to travel one-way,” says Foran.
New Zealanders will still need to register for quarantine on return from Australia. Unless exemption is granted, these passengers will be expected to pay $3100 per traveller, per room over the two-week period.
While the quarantine has lifted for passengers heading West, there are still plenty of restrictions in place that need to be observed. Air New Zealand said it has required passengers to fill in a Covid 19 declaration form before travel, and there will be further screening on arrival in Sydney.
The Australian ministry of Home Affairs notes that quarantine free travel will only apply to passengers arriving on designated ‘quarantine-free’ flights from New Zealand. Those passengers who have been outside of New Zealand in the 14 days prior will still need to quarantine.
Bigger questions remain in place for non-resident travellers flying from New Zealand, and how long they will have to wait before they can return. While Australians without NZ citizenship or travellers on temporary visas will be able to leave, they are not currently allowed into New Zealand.
While there are hopes that New Zealand will soon reciprocate travel arrangements, for Australians the bubble is a one way ticket.
“Normal visa requirements will apply and travellers returning to New Zealand from Australia will be required to comply with New Zealand’s travel requirements,” said the office of the Australian prime minister.
The JetStar / Qantas operated flight is being sold from $440 one way, while Air New Zealand’s lead in price is from $502.