First Australia-bound flight from NZ since travel bubble opened departs Wellington

Alonzo Simpson
April 20, 2021

"We're very excited to be heading back home but we're gonna miss our family (in Australia) big time", she said.

A worker at Auckland airport has returned a positive test result for COVID-19, but New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she does not expect it to shut down quarantine-free travel across the Tasman.

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

A passenger arriving from Sydney at the Wellington International Airport hugs a loved one in Wellington, New Zealand Monday.

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.

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

"This is an important step forward in our COVID response and represents an arrangement I do not believe we have seen in any other part of the world", Ardern said from New Zealand's parliament in Wellington.

A woman hugs her daughter and grand-daughter at Sydney International Airport
A woman hugs her daughter and grand-daughter at Sydney International Airport Credit Jenny Evans /Getty Images AsiaPac

Under the deal with New Zealand, passengers from Australia take "green zone flights" for those who have been in Australia for the previous 14 days.

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

Under the terms of the trans-Tasman bubble agreement, all states, territories and New Zealand can suspend quarantine-free travel with places that have outbreaks. - AP A mother (R) embraces her daughter upon her arrival from New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on April 19.

The bubble provides a new lease on life to airlines and airports.

According to Tourism NZ, Australian visitors contribute 2.7 billion New Zealand dollars ($1.9 billion) to the national economy in an ordinary year.

There was also one historical case of Covid-19 to report since yesterday - a recent returnee who had recovered.

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Hamacek said he had summoned Russian ambassador Alexander Zmeyevsky on Saturday evening to tell him about the decision. A woman waves a European Union flag in front of the Russian Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic, on April 18, 2021.

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