16 April 2021
Trans-Tasman connections are set to grow by more than 10 times at Auckland Airport with the opening of quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia on Monday.
Around 400 quarantine-free passenger flights a week will arrive and depart Auckland Airport on trans-Tasman routes operated by Air NZ, Jetstar and Qantas between 19 April and the end of the month, compared to just 36 flights to and from Australia in the first week of April.
Auckland Airport Chief Executive Adrian Littlewood said it will be a day of high emotion, not just for those people waiting to see loved ones again after more than a year apart, but for the teams at the airport that have worked hard to make quarantine-free travel a reality.
“How to manage the safe travel between countries that have had similar success in reducing the spread of COVID-19 has been a huge piece of work for the airport teams – not just the staff employed by Auckland Airport, but also our airline partners, retailers, cleaning staff and the government border and health agencies who operate in our terminal.
“Our terminal separation came into effect today, with all arriving passengers needing to go into managed isolation now being processed in Zone B, our fully separated mini arrivals processing area. This allows us a full three days for the final preparations along the safe arrivals path, including the reopening of the duty-free store in arrivals, which has been behind hoardings since the borders restrictions took effect last year.”
Pre-COVID, more than 100 retail, food and beverage businesses were open almost around the clock for international travellers or those coming to the terminal to welcome or farewell. That number has fallen to just 11 tenancies and services trading for scheduled international departures prior to quarantine-free travel restarting.
“On day one, we will have duty-free, The Mall click-and-collect online shopping option, and a small selection of food and beverage options, plus a handful of our retailers. We’ll see more re-open across the week.
“But the reality is for those stores that suspended their operations last year, it will take longer than the two-week notice period the Government gave them to re-start their international terminal businesses. Not only do they need to rehire the people needed to staff operations across what was typically a 19-hour trading day, they also need some certainty that traveller volumes will sustain their business.
“The recovery in passenger numbers is going to be lumpy for a while until travellers gain confidence in the response of the aviation system and how the Government uses its “traffic light” system. We saw it unfold in the domestic market, where passenger numbers have gradually recovered since New Zealand began moving out of lock-down nearly a year ago.
“We are really pleased to see the positive response from the airlines with the addition of new routes out of Auckland. This is going to open up some new travel possibilities for New Zealanders and give Australians in those markets an easier connection to New Zealand,” said Mr Littlewood.
Air New Zealand will begin operating a new direct service to Hobart, Tasmania on 22 April. From Monday, Qantas will launch a new direct service flying between Auckland and the Gold Coast, and a new seasonal service flying between Auckland and Cairns starting 5 June.
While the excitement of international travel is returning to Auckland Airport, Mr Littlewood warns travellers to come ready for changes.
“Just like what happened after 9/11, managing COVID-19 has meant new processes in place including the need for New Zealanders travelling to Australia to complete a travel declaration at least 72 hours before departure and some health checks on arrival back into New Zealand.
“Around the precinct, the reduction in traveller numbers has meant roading projects have made good progress. The improvements to SH20B are complete and officially open today, and on the airport precinct our new roading network is taking shape. If you haven’t been to the airport for a while – or even if you’re a regular traveller on our roads – make sure you give yourself enough time and take care through the roading project sites. At the end of the day we want everyone to arrive at their destination safely, including our roading crews.”
Top tips for travellers:
- Friends and family are welcome at the airport – our terminals are open to everyone
- Make sure you’re ready for international travel – read the COVID-19 website for the latest information on quarantine-free travel and re-check what you can and can’t take through Aviation Security screening
- Duty free is available at both arrivals and departures but retail and food and beverage options may be limited on day one, and will grow over the next few weeks
- Take care and follow signs and directions as you drive through the precinct roadworks
- Car parks, including valet parking and Park & Ride, the inter-terminal bus, SkyBus, taxis, ride-share, and public transport will all be operating at the international terminal
- Relax and enjoy quarantine-free travel.