Australian insiders hint at trans-Tasman bubble start date as airline ramps up flights

The trans-Tasman travel bubble is expected to begin as soon as next week, according to The Australian

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to announce a date on Tuesday for when a bubble will open.

Australian federal government and industry sources say the bubble is expected to begin on April 12 or 19, according to The Australian

"The 19th was pretty much definite," according to Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry tourism chief John Hart. 

Air New Zealand appears to be ramping up operations with flights between Auckland and Sydney and Auckland and Melbourne available from as early as April 9. 

The airline has also revealed it's in preparation mode and has welcomed back and retrained more than 300 cabin crew, and brought back airport staff and ground handlers in Australia.

Qantas and Jetstar are also preparing to bring back regular flights in time for the bubble, according to The Australian.

The trans-Tasman bubble would allow Kiwis and Australians to travel between the countries without the need to quarantine. 

New Zealanders can visit some parts of Australia without quarantining on arrival but must pay for 14 days of managed isolation when they arrive home. The bubble would remove this requirement, allowing Kiwis and Aussies to travel freely between the countries. 

It can't come soon enough for struggling tourism businesses. Hospitality NZ CEO Julie White told Newshub businesses are desperate for the money. 

"We really need this injection. We're going to go from a team of 5 million to a team of 30 million," she says.

She's desperate for the border to open up soon.

"We can't be the bridesmaid, we can't be left at the altar so to speak. So we really need to open the border to Australia and we need to open it really soon."

Australians tend to spend twice as much as a Kiwi does locally, and it adds up.

"We think between now and the end of the calendar year it could be up to a billion dollars and maybe even more for the remainder of 2021," said René de Monchy, Tourism NZ interim CEO.

Tourism New Zealand says this money will feed into many different businesses.

"Accommodation, transport, tourism activities, but there's also secondary and tertiary benefits - cafes, retail, petrol stations," de Monchy said.

The idea of a travel bubble between the two countries was first floated in April last year. 

Newshub has contacted Air New Zealand for comment.