Australia and New Zealand have flung open their borders to each other, opening up the Trans-Tasman bubble for travellers to fly between the two countries without needing to quarantine on either side.

It’s a monumental step in the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and thousands are set to board flights throughout today to cross the Tasman Sea, some making family visits that have been many agonising months in the making.

Last night, the first quarantine-free flight between Australia and New Zealand touched down in Auckland just minutes after the trans-Tasman bubble officially opened. But exactly who was on the plane was somewhat of a mystery.
Qantas Air New Zealand
Qantas Air New Zealand (iStock)

Stuff reported that the Qantas flight from Sydney was repositioning to New Zealand and the only passengers on board were crew.

The flight was not listed on Auckland Airport’s arrivals board, but a Qantas A330 was listed on Flight Radar 24 as arriving at 12.05am, six minutes after the bubble officially opened.

Qantas declined to answer questions about the flight, including who was onboard.

Aircraft that encounter a strong tailwind across the Tasman can potentially arrive more than 30 minutes early, but if that were to happen last night, the pilots could have intentionally slowed the plane to ensure it arrive after the border opening.

However, the fear would be if there was a medical emergency on the plane or a mechanical issue, which would force it to land as soon as possible. That could be one of the reasons no passenger flights were scheduled to land on Sunday, just after the border opened.

Instead, the first quarantine-free passenger flight arriving from Australia is a Jetstar service from Sydney. JQ201 is due to land at 11.20am (9.20am AEST), where an official welcome is planned at Auckland Airport.

SKYLINE restaurant and view over Queenstown
Breath-taking views over Queenstown. (iStock)

The first Air New Zealand service from Australia lands in Wellington at 1pm (11am AEDT), and a welcome is also planned. It includes live music and a huge banner at the end of the airport to welcome passengers.

WellingtonNZ general manager Anna Calver said, “we are buzzing over the fact that we can welcome our Australian whānau (family) back and delighted there is a light at the end of a dark COVID tunnel for those local businesses hurting through a lack of international visitors. Bring it on.”

Air New Zealand said Monday would be a “mammoth day” with more than 5000 people expected to travel. Most Australian states have been open to New Zealand travellers for months, but April 19 marked the first time New Zealand has opened its borders to those in Australia.

Scott Morrison and Jacina Ardern have reached an agreement on a trans-Tasman travel bubble. (Dominic Lorimer)

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said Monday would go down in history as one of the most monumental days for Air New Zealand and a turning point for the airline.

“It’s Day 1 of our revival.”

Thirty flights will be operating on Monday between Brisbane, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Perth, Sydney, flying into Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

“This will build to more than 300 flights a week as we reach the peak New Zealand and Australia school holidays in July,” Foran said.



This content first appear on 9news

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