Share The Article

Last Updated

How we travel today has changed so much compared to how it was in 2019 that travelers would be forgiven for forgetting just how easy it used to be. From negative test results to proof of vaccination, mask mandates to insurances policies, post-pandemic travel has introduced travelers to concepts that were once alien to many of us.

Australia-New Zealand Bubble Faces Problems Whilst Singapore Bubble Is Delayed

One such concept is that of travel bubbles. Before Covid-19 digital passports were on the horizon, travel bubbles were viewed as a solution to the safe travel question. Australia’s travel bubble with New Zealand has been successful but now faces more restrictions, whilst Singapore too hopes to get in on the act. Here’s what you need to know about the state of travel bubbles at present.

Travel Bubbles – Information For Travelers

Travel bubbles are typically agreements between countries that have demonstrated success in containing the spread of Covid-19 that allow citizens to move freely between the parties involved, with either no restrictions or a reduction in the number of restrictions that the traveler will face. Due to the controls and the selective nature of the countries involved, they are seen as a safe way to resume travel.

Australian airline Qantas

Often referred to as travel corridors, there are currently several such bubbles in operation around the world, such as the ones between the “third countries” and the EU and one between Australia and New Zealand. However, the Australia-New Zealand travel bubble has been fraught with problems ever since it came into being – and the resumption of the travel bubble is set to face a delay.

New Zealand and Australia Suspend Travel Bubble

Australia-New Zealand Travel Bubble Delay – What Travelers Should Know

The travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand was launched on April 18th, and was seen as a good solution to the issue of travel between the two countries given the close ties that the two countries have with one another. However, the bubble has faced several issues, which led to a pause in the operation of the bubble coming into effect on June 23rd.

Whilst the pause was only scheduled to last for 72 hours, New Zealand has opted to delay the reopening on the bubble with the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), following an increase in restrictions in NSW and a rise in the number of cases. NSW was the only state to face the indefinite delay, with the travel bubble between New Zealand and the Australian states of Victoria, ACT, South Australia and Tasmania relaunching successfully during the week.

sydney opera house australia

Speaking about the decision, New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said:

“Clearly there is an escalating risk in NSW and no one wants to see Covid-19 coming into New Zealand which is why we’ve made this difficult decision … if the lockdown isn’t working and people aren’t following the rules … then that does add additional risk for us here in New Zealand.”

Despite the issues faced by the bubble, there

The New Zealand government has announced that the travel bubble with Australia will resume with South Australia, ACT, Tasmania and Victoria on July 5.

The bubble was paused on the weekend in response to the growing number of cases being reported across Australia.

New Zealand had earlier decided to close the travel bubble to New South Wales until July 7.

New Zealand’s COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins today said travellers from SA, ACT, Tasmania or Victoria, to be eligible to fly, must not have been in NSW since June 22 or Queensland, the NT or WA from June 26.

“The cabinet agreed that partially lifting the pause was the appropriate course of action,” Mr Hipkins told a news conference.

“The health advice is that the spread of COVID-19 in these parts of Australia has been contained at this point,” he said.

Travellers will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test pre-departure and must not have visited the blocked states and territories in recent days, Mr Hipkins said.

The pause on those states would be reviewed on Monday with an announcement expected next Tuesday.

Mr Hipkins said coronavirus restrictions in Wellington would ease from midnight on Tuesday as no community cases have been reported in the capital in the past week.

New Zealand had raised the alert level in Wellington as a result of an Australian tourist testing positive for COVID-19 after visiting the city.

The on-again, off-again trans-Tasman travel bubble started in mid-April.

Loading form…

ABC/Reuters

A long-awaited and much-lauded ‘travel bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand has partially burst less than a week after quarantine-free travel between the two countries was finally permitted. The partial suspension came after the Western Australian city of Perth went into a three-day lockdown after an international traveller was released from hotel quarantine and went on to infect a friend in the community.

“Both countries have planned for this type of scenario and are following agreed Trans-Tasman bubble protocols,” a spokesperson for the New Zealand government explained on Saturday.

ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

Flights between Western Australia and New Zealand were initially suspended and one flight due to depart Perth for New Zealand on Friday evening was cancelled at the last minute. The flight ban from Western Australia has since been lifted but all arrivals entering New Zealand must go into quarantine.

Officials maintain the risk to New Zealand remains low and that quarantine-free travel from all other parts of Australia can continue as before. Around 1,000 travellers had arrived in New Zealand from Western Australia since the travel bubble was opened on Monday.

The travel bubble had been months in the making and Air New Zealand said its flights from Australia were operating at 97 per cent capacity on Monday. Qantas and its budget subsidiary Jetstar also reported healthy passenger numbers and strong forwards bookings.

The bubble has allowed many Australians to travel internationally for the time since the start of the pandemic and has helped reunite friends and family.

But quarantine-free travel could already be at risk because of Perth’s snap three-day lockdown. WA Premier Mark McGowan ordered the lockdown after an international traveller who had spent 14-days in a quarantine hotel in Perth went on to infect a friend in the community after being released.

The man had tested negative for the virus before being released but investigators believe he was infected by an Indian family staying in a hotel room directly adjacent to his.

India is facing an explosion in COVID-19 cases and health officials in New Zealand have banned all arrivals from the country after it was classified as ‘very high risk’. The ban is expected to reduce the number of potential positive cases coming to New Zealand by an estimated 75 per cent.

The infected traveller visited a number of locations in Perth and Peele, before flying to Melbourne. He has since been placed into quarantine and no further cases of community transmission have so far been identified.

“I’m getting to the end of my tether,” McGowan said of the current quarantine hotel setup, saying that normal hotels in city centre locations were not suitable. McGowan has called for the federal government to take over the international traveller quarantine programme and set up designated facilities.


Photo Credit: Benny Marty / Shutterstock.com

Sign Up for the Cabin Crew Brief

Get the latest cabin crew recruitment news delivered to your inbox once a week…

Mateusz Maszczynski

Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience at

A passenger arrives from New Zealand after the Trans-Tasman travel bubble opened overnight, following an extended border closure due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

A testing and quarantine free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand launched with lopsided demand, according to airlines and data firms, with an unusually high number of the travellers departing from Australia.

The initial results from Asia’s first restriction-free travel bubble since the pandemic hit, which opened on Monday, showed that travel patterns can depart from their norms after such a long closure and may take time to return to normal.

“Right now, it’s one-way traffic, with almost three times as much travel going to New Zealand as in the opposite direction,” said Olivier Ponti, vice president insights at travel data firm ForwardKeys.

Before the pandemic hit, travel between the countries was relatively equal despite Australia having a population around five times as large as New Zealand.

In 2019, 1.5 million Australians travelled to New Zealand, while 1.4 million New Zealanders travelled to Australia, according to their respective tourism marketing organisations.

Ticketing from April 6 to 12 for travel from New Zealand to Australia recovered to 27% of the volume seen in the same period in 2019, while the opposite direction recovered to 69% of the 2019 level, according to ForwardKeys data provided to Reuters.

Ponti said the initial travel rush from Australia to New Zealand was probably partly explained by there being around 600,000 New Zealanders living in Australia versus 60,000 Australians living in New Zealand, as well as Australians looking to head to New Zealand’s ski fields for holidays.

Air New Zealand Ltd (AIR.NZ) said of the 5,200 passengers booked on Monday, 59% were travelling to New Zealand.

Qantas Airways Ltd (QAN.AX) Chief Executive Alan Joyce said last week that demand from the New Zealand end had been sluggish relative to that from Australia, though he expected it would pick up within a few months.

Qantas plans to run 83% of its pre-COVID capacity between Australia and New Zealand, while Air New Zealand is flying 70%.

Before the pandemic, around 20% of traffic between the countries was comprised of international tourists from places such as the United States and China, Joyce said.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A testing and quarantine free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand launched with lopsided demand, according to airlines and data firms, with an unusually high number of the travellers departing from Australia.

The initial results from Asia’s first restriction-free travel bubble since the pandemic hit, which opened on Monday, showed that travel patterns can depart from their norms after such a long closure and may take time to return to normal.

“Right now, it’s one-way traffic, with almost three times as much travel going to New Zealand as in the opposite direction,” said Olivier Ponti, vice president insights at travel data firm ForwardKeys.

Before the pandemic hit, travel between the countries was relatively equal despite Australia having a population around five times as large as New Zealand.

In 2019, 1.5 million Australians travelled to New Zealand, while 1.4 million New Zealanders travelled to Australia, according to their respective tourism marketing organisations.

Ticketing from April 6 to 12 for travel from New Zealand to Australia recovered to 27% of the volume seen in the same period in 2019, while the opposite direction recovered to 69% of the 2019 level, according to ForwardKeys data provided to Reuters.

Ponti said the initial travel rush from Australia to New Zealand was probably partly explained by there being around 600,000 New Zealanders living in Australia versus 60,000 Australians living in New Zealand, as well as Australians looking to head to New Zealand’s ski fields for holidays.

Air New Zealand Ltd said of the 5,200 passengers booked on Monday, 59% were travelling to New Zealand.

Qantas Airways Ltd Chief Executive Alan Joyce said last week that demand from the New Zealand end had been sluggish relative to that from Australia, though he expected it would pick up within a few months.

Qantas plans to run 83% of its pre-COVID capacity between Australia and New Zealand, while Air New Zealand is flying 70%.

Before the pandemic, around 20% of traffic between the countries was comprised of international tourists from places such as the United States and China, Joyce said.

(Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

By NICK PERRY, Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — As the passengers walked a little dazed through the airport gates, they were embraced one after another by family members who rushed forward and dissolved into tears.

Elation and relief marked the opening of a long-anticipated travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand at the Wellington Airport on Monday. Children held balloons and banners and Indigenous Maori performers welcomed the arrivals home with songs.

The start of quarantine-free travel was a long time coming for families who have been separated by the coronavirus pandemic as well as to struggling tourist operators. It marked the first, tentative steps toward what both countries hope will become a gradual reopening to the rest of the world.

Danny Mather was overcome to see his pregnant daughter Kristy and his baby grandson for the first time in 15 months after they flew in from Sydney for a visit on the first flight after the bubble opened. What did they say to each other?

“Not a thing,” he said, laughing. They just hugged. “It’s just so good to see her and I’m just so happy to have her back.”

Kristy Mather said it was overwhelming to be reunited with her family and it was amazing the bubble had opened.

“I wished it had happened earlier, but it’s happened now,” she said. “I just wanted to get on that first flight because you never know, it may go south. Let’s hope it sticks around.”

Danny Mather said he wanted to keep New Zealand safe from the virus but also thought the time was right to open the bubble.

The idea of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand had been talked about for months but faced setbacks because of several small virus outbreaks in both countries, which were eventually stamped out.

To mark the occasion, Wellington Airport painted an enormous welcome sign near its main runway and Air New Zealand ordered some 24,000 bottles of sparkling wine, offering a complimentary glass to adult passengers.

Air New Zealand’s Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui said the carrier had previously been running just two or three flights a day between the two countries but that jumped to 30 flights on Monday carrying 5,200 passengers.

She said the day marked a turning point and people were excited.

“You can feel it at the airport and see it on people’s faces,” she said.

The leaders of both countries welcomed the bubble, saying it was a world-leading arrangement because it aimed to both open borders and keep the virus from spreading.

“Today’s milestone is a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe,” Australian Prime Scott Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country was welcoming the new arrivals.

“The bubble marks a significant step in both countries’ reconnection with the world and it’s one we should all take a moment to be very proud of,” she said.

Travelers who lined up at

Hundreds of passengers from Australia began arriving in New Zealand airports on Monday after authorities reopened borders, a pandemic milestone that allows quarantine-free travel between the countries for the first time in over a year.

Though most Australian states have allowed quarantine-free visits from New Zealand residents since late last year, New Zealand had enforced isolation for arrivals from its neighbour, citing concerns about sporadic virus outbreaks there.

“The bubble marks a significant step in New Zealand’s reconnection with the world and it is one that we should all take a moment to be very, very proud of,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern told reporters in Wellington.

With the borders open, Ardern said Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison would visit New Zealand in the “not too distant future”. Ardern said Australia Foreign Minister Marise Payne would travel to New Zealand on Wednesday.

Television footage showed emotional scenes at the airports with families reuniting and scores of passengers thronging the international departure terminals at Australian airports.

“I haven’t been excited, I haven’t looked forward to it, I haven’t planned anything because I just didn’t think it was going to happen,” Michelle Rafferty, a passenger on a flight from New Zealand, told Australian media at the Sydney airport.

Passengers flying to New Zealand capital of Wellington were greeted from the air with a ‘Welcome Whanau’- the Maori term for extended family – painted in huge white letters near the runway.

At the Auckland airport, a choir was singing Dave Dobbyn’s ‘Welcome Home’ as people hugged and kissed their dear ones.

Qantas (QAN.AX) will ramp up flights between the countries to about 200 each week, while Air New Zealand (AIR.NZ) said it had quadrupled its flights to 30 on Monday, with its airplanes flying into New Zealand 97% full.

TRAVEL UNDER ‘CONSTANT REVIEW’

Despite the excitement of open borders, Morrison and Ardern warned travellers to prepare for disruptions to their travel at short notice in the event of COVID-19 outbreaks, and said the risks of quarantine-free travel will be under “constant review”.

Both leaders also flagged the possibility of extending quarantine-free travel to other countries in the Pacific region when “it is safe to do so.”

About 1.5 million Australians visited New Zealand in 2019, the year before the pandemic closed international borders, making up about 40% of all visitors, spending NZ$2.7 billion ($1.93 billion) in the country, official data showed.

More than half a million New Zealand-born people live in Australia, just over 2% of Australia’s population of near 26 million.

Both Australia and New Zealand had largely closed their borders to non-citizens and permanent residents more than a year ago, helping to keep their COVID-19 numbers relatively low compared with several other developed countries.

Other international arrivals into both countries must go through a two-week hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Australia has recorded just over 29,500 virus cases and 910 deaths since the pandemic began, while New Zealand has had just over 2,200 confirmed cases and 26 deaths.

($1

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — As the passengers walked a little dazed through the airport gates, they were embraced one after another by family members who rushed forward and dissolved into tears.

Elation and relief marked the opening of a long-anticipated travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand at the Wellington Airport on Monday. Children held balloons and banners and Indigenous Maori performers welcomed the arrivals home with songs.

The start of quarantine-free travel was a long time coming for families who have been separated by the coronavirus pandemic as well as to struggling tourist operators. It marked the first, tentative steps toward what both countries hope will become a gradual reopening to the rest of the world.

Danny Mather was overcome to see his pregnant daughter Kristy and his baby grandson for the first time in 15 months after they flew in from Sydney for a visit on the first flight after the bubble opened. What did they say to each other?

“Not a thing,” he said, laughing. They just hugged. “It’s just so good to see her and I’m just so happy to have her back.”

Kristy Mather said it was overwhelming to be reunited with her family and it was amazing the bubble had opened.

“I wished it had happened earlier, but it’s happened now,” she said. “I just wanted to get on that first flight because you never know, it may go south. Let’s hope it sticks around.”

Danny Mather said he wanted to keep New Zealand safe from the virus but also thought the time was right to open the bubble.

The idea of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand had been talked about for months but faced setbacks because of several small virus outbreaks in both countries, which were eventually stamped out.

To mark the occasion, Wellington Airport painted an enormous welcome sign near its main runway and Air New Zealand ordered some 24,000 bottles of sparkling wine, offering a complimentary glass to adult passengers.

Air New Zealand’s Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui said the carrier had previously been running just two or three flights a day between the two countries but that jumped to 30 flights on Monday carrying 5,200 passengers.

She said the day marked a turning point and people were excited.

“You can feel it at the airport and see it on people’s faces,” she said.

The leaders of both countries welcomed the bubble, saying it was a world-leading arrangement because it aimed to both open borders and keep the virus from spreading.

“Today’s milestone is a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe,” Australian Prime Scott Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country was welcoming the new arrivals.

“The bubble marks a significant step in both countries’ reconnection with the world and it’s one we should all take a moment to be very proud of,” she said.

Travelers who lined up at Sydney and Melbourne airports early

Elation marked the opening of a long-anticipated travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand

The idea of a bubble between Australia and New Zealand had been talked about for months but faced setbacks because of several small virus outbreaks in both countries, which were eventually stamped out.

To mark the occasion, Wellington International Airport painted an enormous welcome sign near its main runway and Air New Zealand ordered some 24,000 bottles of sparkling wine, offering a complimentary glass to adult passengers.

Air New Zealand’s Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui said the carrier had previously been running just two or three flights a day between the two countries but that jumped to 30 flights on Monday carrying 5,200 passengers.

She said the day marked a turning point and people were excited.

“You can feel it at the airport and see it on people’s faces,” she said.

The leaders of both countries welcomed the bubble, saying it was a world-leading arrangement because it aimed to both open borders and keep the virus from spreading.

“Today’s milestone is a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe,” Australian Prime Scott Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country was welcoming new arrivals.

“The bubble marks a significant step in both countries’ reconnection with the world and it’s one we should all take a moment to be very proud of,” she said.

Travelers who lined up at Sydney and Melbourne airports early Monday said they were excited or relieved to finally fly to New Zealand after more than a year. Some were visiting family and friends, while others were attending funerals.

Both countries have managed to keep out the virus by putting up barriers to the outside world, including strict quarantine requirements for travelers returning from other countries where the virus is rampant.

Australia had previously allowed New Zealanders to arrive without going into quarantine but New Zealand had taken a more cautious approach, requiring travelers from Australia complete a quarantine.

The start of the bubble comes ahead of the New Zealand ski season and is welcome news for many tourist towns, including the ski resort of Queenstown.



a person standing in front of a television: Passengers arrive from New Zealand after the Trans-Tasman travel bubble opened overnight, at Sydney Airport


© Provided by Quartz
Passengers arrive from New Zealand after the Trans-Tasman travel bubble opened overnight, at Sydney Airport

The Asia-Pacific region boasts some of the most successful pandemic stories, with places like Taiwan, Singapore, and Australia bringing local new cases down to zero or single digits. Now, this exclusive club of Covid-19 champions is launching long-awaited travel bubbles, offering a glimpse of what post-pandemic international travel will look like as the world lines up for vaccines.

After several delays, a relatively unrestricted bubble is set to launch on Sunday (April 19) between two of the world’s most Covid-19 cautious countries, Australia and New Zealand. According to the New Zealand tourism department, it won’t involve mandatory testing, proof of vaccination, or quarantines, but passengers must wear masks during their flights and agree to be tracked via app for contact tracing purposes, and those with cold or flu symptoms can’t travel. Officials on both sides hope to recoup some part of their pre-Covid travel—in 2019, an estimated 1.5 million Australian tourists vacationed in New Zealand and roughly the same number of New Zealanders followed suit in Australia.

But political and business leaders keen to help cross-border travel resume are constantly reminded that a bubble is exactly that—a fragile structure that can pop at any moment.

Loading...

Load Error

This month Taiwan and Palau embarked on what they called Asia’s first quarantine-free travel bubble, but two weeks in, Taiwan’s flagship carrier China Airlines announced that flights would be suspended for the rest of the month. The halt came after the number of tourists plummeted from around 100 on the inaugural April 1 flight to only two bookings, according to a local travel industry association, on a now-canceled April 17 flight.

“The travel bubble is mainly a commercial initiative that is regulated freely by the market supply and demands,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou told Quartz.

To clarify, a “bubble” (or “air bridge” or “sterile corridor” depending on a country’s preferred nomenclature), requires a two-way agreement easing Covid-19 travel restrictions, and refers to travel between places where Covid-19 is low or nonexistent. Some countries have already extended one-way relaxations to select foreign nationals. In October, Australia allowed quarantine-free entry for New Zealanders, but the latter held off on reciprocating.

Bubbles are far more helpful toward restarting travel than one-way steps, because while the latter might work just fine for a citizen trying to return home and stay put, leisure international travel requires both being able to leave and return just as easily.

The fate of the Taiwan-Palau corridor is a reminder of how necessary it is for commercial considerations to prevail. The bubble with Palau, a staunch member of Taiwan’s dwindling club of diplomatic allies, involves a pre-and post-boarding checklist that is both extensive and expensive. Travelers going to Palau must undergo Covid-19 tests and show that they haven’t traveled anywhere else overseas in the last six months before boarding. Tourists also have to purchase $2,000 to $3,000-plus travel packages,