Travellers on the first commercial flight from New Zealand in seven months have landed in Sydney this afternoon – in the first phase of a transtasman travel bubble.
There were emotional scenes at Sydney International Airport as families were finally reunited after the bubble opened overnight.
Passengers on board the Air New Zealand flight touched down at midday.
Passengers were greeted with signs that read “we’ve missed you” and “welcome back” as they made their way through the terminal to their loved ones.
There were hugs, kisses and tears as those stuck on either side of the Tasman came together after seven months apart as both nations closed their borders in March to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Kiwi passengers will not have to enter hotel quarantine upon arrival. A Jetstar flight and a Qantas flight will arrive later today.
The arrivals mark a welcome development in international travel arrivals, with Australia’s border being closed to international arrivals since March.
Under the deal between the two nations, New Zealanders will be allowed to travel quarantine-free into NSW and the Northern Territory if they have not been in a Covid-19 hotspot in the previous 14 days.
Upon arrival in Australia, passengers will be separated into green and red zones at the airport, demarcating quarantine-free flights and travellers subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Currently, it is a one-way bubble. Australians will be able to travel across the ditch at a later, still undetermined date.
Sydney Airport chief executive officer Geoff Culbert said this was a first step in the “phased approach”.
“We haven’t welcomed international travellers to Sydney in months that haven’t had to come through customs and go straight on to buses to hotel [quarantine],” he said.
The first phase is going to provide a vital “proof of concept” for further destinations and travel, he said.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said all passengers arriving from New Zealand would be kept separate from other arrivals in the airport.
There will be 16 flights between the two countries each week, with the first flight arriving at midday on Friday.
Jetstar, Qantas, Air New Zealand and Qatar Airways have been advertising trans-Tasman flights.
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said in order for the airline to continue to carry passengers safely and identify passengers with travel not originating in New Zealand, it had introduced “quarantine” and “quarantine-free” flights.
“The quarantine-free flights will be for travellers originating from New Zealand who are flying from Auckland to Sydney and are not required to quarantine on arrival in Australia.”
Quarantine flights would be open to passengers who do not meet the Safe Travel Zone criteria and would be required to quarantine on arrival in Australia.
– additional reporting Daily Mail Australia
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