Source: Reuters
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  • New Zealand resumes quarantine-free travel with Australia for the first time since mid-2021
  • The island nation imposed some of the toughest restrictions in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic and its borders have been closed for most of the time since March 2020
  • There was a short-lived travel bubble last year between Australia and New Zealand, however, it popped after a few months due to an outbreak in Australia
  • An Air New Zealand flight was the first to land following the easing of restrictions, at Auckland airport at 12:30 am local time
  • Qantas and Jetstar will be boosting flights to New Zealand in the near term, with Virgin Australia yet to resume any flights due to “uncertainty”

New Zealand has resumed quarantine-free travel with Australia for the first time since mid-2021.

The island nation imposed some of the toughest restrictions in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic and its borders have been closed for most of the two years-plus since March 2020.

There was a short-lived travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand last year, however, it popped after a few months due to an outbreak in Australia.

“We’ve always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the time.

The New Zealand Government hopes quarantine-free travel will boost tourism and ease labour shortages.

“This is the first step in welcoming international visitors back to our shores and we couldn’t be more excited for both New Zealand and Air New Zealand,” Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said.

The airline said it was running 11 almost full flights from Australia, with the first one landing at Auckland International Airport at 12:30 am local time.

Australian airlines Qantas and Jetstar will also be boosting flights. Qantas said it intends increasing flights to New Zealand from 25 to 71 weekly services by May 23.

Flights to Queenstown will resume on June 18 in time for New Zealand’s ski season.

Jetstar resumed its Gold Coast to Auckland flight earlier today and will resume flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Auckland in May. Additional routes were planned to resume in June and July.

Virgin Australia is yet to resume any flights to New Zealand, claiming “uncertainty”.

“Virgin Australia is grateful for the Australian and New Zealand governments in relaxing international travel restrictions, however, as a result of the uncertainty in the short term, we are now gearing up to recommence our Queenstown services in November in advance of the summer holidays,” a spokesperson said.

“We continue to review our forward schedule and will provide services in line with demand.”

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