19 April 2021 marked an important travel milestone with the announcement that the New Zealand leg of the Trans-Tasman bubble was to be inflated. As expected, there are details and caveats to be considered and we have already had flights paused and potential green zone breaches. At a high level we share our thoughts after the announcement (Image courtesy of Tourism Australia).
What Does The Bubble Mean
For New Zealand travellers to Australia, the bubble allows for a quarantine free return to New Zealand (i.e. no 14 day managed isolation). This has been the major obstacle for families needing to visit loved ones or businesses needing to connect with trans-Tasman partners. While Australia stop requiring New Zealanders to quarantine some months ago, New Zealand only reciprocated on 19 April. The important question though is, when could that quarantine free status be revoked.
Could I Get Stuck in Australia?
The short answer is “yes”. If you travel to an Australian State that has a community outbreak, and New Zealand designates it a high risk outbreak, flights could be paused or suspended. The New Zealand government has made it very clear that travel is on the basis of “traveller beware” and has explicitly stated that it would be very unlikely to meet the cost of getting New Zealand travellers home in the event of an Australian outbreak (a position that differs to the one taken in respect of the Cook Islands Travel Bubble).
Shortly after the Australian Bubble opened the city of Perth went into a three day lockdown in response to a potential community outbreak. In that case flights from Perth to Auckland were paused, and New Zealand travellers in Perth would have had to comply with the State Government’s stay at home order. Importantly this might have disrupted plans to travel home, but also limited the enjoyment of a New Zealand travellers time in Perth (3 days stuck in a hotel room isn’t the ideal holiday). The current outbreak in New South Wales also gives us a further opportunity to understand how the New Zealand government will react to a community outbreak.
Could I Still Have to Quarantine?
If there has been a community outbreak while you are in Australia, you could be asked to monitor, get tested, self isolate, or even required to quarantine when you return to New Zealand. The recent breach of the Green Zone at Brisbane airport resulted in some passengers needing to monitor their symptoms and get tested.
How Fine Travel Can Help
Organising travel to Australia will be as much about your “Plan A” as your “Plan B”. In the event of a community outbreak and the pausing or suspending of flights to New Zealand, your Plan B will be needed and this is where we can also help.
When we book your flights, our direct reservations system access means we can make changes to your flights – saving you from the airline’s call centre. Given the risks involved, flexible and refundable airfares should be considered over the cheapest available.
A pausing or suspension of flights could result in an extended stay in Australia, or prevent you from going on a planned holiday. Having a Plan B in place when you book your travel will avoid scrambling and save time, stress and potentially money.
Can I get Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is available if Covid-19 affects travel plans or if you are diagnosed with Covid-19. If you are planning to travel to Australia, please contact us about your travel insurance options.
Airfares to New Zealand
Fine Travel has direct access to airfares from Australia to New Zealand. So if you have family who have been waiting to come home for a visit, we can help them with their plans and provide them with our additional support.
With the increased likelihood of flight changes and unexpected cancellations, the role and responsibility of the inhouse travel manager will expand. If you’re travelling for business and would like to discuss how I can help arrange your travel, please feel free to contact us.
Although it is admittedly “early days”, as we get a better sense for how outbreaks will be managed, Australian holidays will add some variety after a year at home. We are available now to help with any holiday ideas, and look forward to sharing more with you.