Air New Zealand, Tourism NZ expect two-way trans-Tasman travel bubble by early 2021

Both organisations were speaking at an online travel summit on Thursday.
Both organisations were speaking at an online travel summit on Thursday. Photo credit: Getty/Newshub

Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand have revealed they're working on how a two-way travel bubble will work with Australia - which they expect to open within months.

Speaking at the online Travel DAZE summit, Tourism NZ's director of commercial René de Monchy said a travel bubble with all of Australia is expected in the first quarter of 2021.

He said that, as with everything else related to COVID-19, deadlines and launch dates for travel have been moving all the time.

"There was a moment that we thought it was July, and then it was October, and then of course we had flare-ups in both countries flare-ups between then and now," de Monchy said.

"But we have our plans ready and we can push play in a matter of days on a lot of that content.

"I think that's going to be one of the challenges - there is the possibility that if an announcement is made, there may not be a lot of notice." 

One of the main benefactors of a trans-Tasman bubble would of course be Air NZ, which also said it was "realistically looking at Q1 next year" as a start date for two-way travel between Australia and Aotearoa.

"We were always of the view that Australia needed to open its domestic borders first, and then once that was happening, I think New Zealand would be next on the list," the airline's regional general manager for Australia Kathryn Robertson said.

"We know the governments are talking, so that's good. The one-way bubble has definitely been a step in the right direction and we have seen pretty okay loads."

The current one-way travel bubble has allowed Air NZ to become familiar with all the processes and protocols that will need to be in place should a bubble be announced.

"We've worked really closely with the airports to understand their safe travel zones, and we've got what we call 'green zones' and 'red zones' for those flights that are just coming from New Zealand versus those that are coming from other places," Robertson said.

Robertson said the airline was also keen on parts of the Pacific Islands being included in the travel bubble.

"Cook Islands, Fiji - that kind of bubble I think will be pretty soon after the trans-Tasman one, or maybe even before," Robertson said.