Trans-Tasman flights as new travel bubble on the horizon

A mother embraces her daughter upon her arrival from New Zealand at Sydney International Airport

"Right now, it's one-way traffic, with nearly three times as much travel going to New Zealand as in the opposite direction", said Olivier Ponti, vice president insights at travel data firm ForwardKeys.

The bubble, which followed months of negotiations between the largely coronavirus-free neighbours, was hailed as a major milestone in restarting a global travel industry that has been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It marked the first, tentative steps toward what both countries hope will become a gradual reopening to the rest of the world.

But the two nations have made assurances that small outbreaks won't result in the bubble being closed.

An Auckland Airport worker has tested positive to COVID-19 in New Zealand's first community case since the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble.

Ticketing from April 6 to 12 for travel from New Zealand to Australia recovered to 27% of the volume seen in the same period in 2019, while the opposite direction recovered to 69% of the 2019 level, according to ForwardKeys data provided to Reuters.

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

She said the worker had cleaned planes from high-risk countries.

"(I'll) yell, scream, cry, hug, kiss, (feel) happy - all of these emotions at once", Denise O'Donoghue, 63, told AFP at Sydney airport as she prepared to board her flight. "I just wanted to get on that first flight because you never know, it may go south. Let's hope it sticks around". The first flight, JetStar JQ201 from Sydney, took off from 7.40am and a flight from New Zealand dtouched down at the Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney at 7.55am.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce described today as "an wonderful day" with the airline bringing 630 employees back to work for the 16 flights departing Australia today.

"A lot of people on those first flights will probably be Kiwis coming home to see family and I think a lot of those people had been desperate to come back, so we'll have a few little Kiwi touches to acknowledge that", airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood told Radio New Zealand.

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

His New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern said her country was welcoming new arrivals.

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