A group of Australasian experts has lodged a comprehensive blueprint for the resumption of safe transtasman travel with the New Zealand and Australian prime ministers which could be implemented within weeks if given the green light.
The detailed proposal, which was developed by the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group made up of a team of 40 experts, provides a series of recommendations to the two governments on the creation of a safe air corridor between Australia and New Zealand.
The group's proposal is separate to one developed by chambers of commerce on both sides of the Tasman released yesterday which suggested trial flights between Wellington and Canberra.
Scott Tasker, co-chair of the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group and Auckland Airport's general manager aeronautical commercial, said the proposal was aligned with official guidance released yesterday from the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
The bubble was aimed at doing away with the need for a 14-day quarantine but information released by the group today to the public has no details on the need to wear masks and other health measures at airports. The timing of new arrangements and the health requirements would be up to governments.
''We've worked solidly together over the past three weeks to develop a detailed and comprehensive framework to enable the safe and sustainable restart of scheduled passenger services between Australia and New Zealand, and we're delighted to have submitted our proposal to Government," said Tasker.
He said he was confident recommendations would effectively manage the risks but importantly they will also provide confidence to travellers to visit each other's countries to reconnect with family and friends, re-establish vital business links, and provide a lifeline of visitors to our respective tourism industries.
Co-chair of the group and chief executive of Australia's Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF), Margy Osmond, said the protections would ensure passengers felt safe throughout their journey.
"It is now for our respective governments to review and work through the detail of the proposal and we are looking forward to supporting them further in re-establishing travel between the two countries," she said.
The recommendations include several layers of protections across the traveller journey, allowing for the sustainable restart of scheduled passenger services without the need for a 14-day passenger quarantine.
The members of the group are:
• Ministry of Health (NZ)
• Auckland District Health Board (NZ)
• Waitemata District Health Board (NZ)
• New Zealand Immigration
• New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
• Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
• Australian Department of Health
• Australian Trade and Investment Commission
• Australian Border Force
• Aviation Security Service (NZ)
• Ministry for Primary Industries (NZ)
• Ministry of Transport (NZ)
• Te Tari Taiwhenua Internal Affairs (NZ)
• New Zealand Customs
• Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (NZ)
• Auckland Airport
• Sydney Airport
• Wellington Airport
• Melbourne Airport
• Christchurch Airport
• Brisbane Airport
• Air New Zealand
• Australian New Zealand Leadership Forum
• Tourism & Transport Forum (AU)
• Tourism Industry Aotearoa
• Board of Airline Representatives NZ
Australia and New Zealand contribute strongly to each other's tourism sectors, with an estimated $3 billion in international visitor spend each way every year.
Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, New Zealand was the most popular outbound travel destination for Australians, with 1.5 million visitors arriving from across the Tasman in 2019, accounting for 40 per cent of all foreign visitors to New Zealand. Likewise, Australia was the most popular outbound travel destination for Kiwis. New Zealand is Australia's second largest source market for visitors (behind China), with 1.4 million visitors in 2019, accounting for 15 per cent of total visitors to Australia.
Chief executive of Auckland Airport and a sponsor of the group, Adrian Littlewood, said that if the governments approved of the plans they could be implemented in weeks rather than months. He said the prospects of resuming scheduled services approaching normal levels had improved more quickly than expected when the group started its work in April.