Auckland Airport says the arrival of the first quarantine-free travellers from Australia on April 19 will trigger a full split of its international terminal to handle the physical separation of arrivals heading into managed isolation or quarantine.
The company's chief executive Adrian Littlewood said after months of preparation and planning it was exciting to be able to fully reconnect with Australia.
"I'm sure this news will be most welcomed by those families who have been separated across the Tasman for the past year. Technology is amazing for staying connected but it's just not the same as being together for life's big moments.''
Transtasman traffic has plunged in the last 12 months.
In January 2020, 453,657 passengers arrived and departed Auckland Airport on the Tasman routes. In January this year this had fallen 98 per cent to 10,684 passengers travelling between Auckland Airport and Australia.
Auckland Airport announced last August it was creating two fully separated zones within the international terminal to protect the health and safety of people flying to and from countries with which New Zealand had made quarantine-free arrangements.
The main pier will be Zone A: Safe Travel area, which will be used by quarantine-free arrivals and all departures. A second self-contained zone on the international terminal's Pier B will form Zone B: Health Management area for processing arrivals who are going on to managed isolation facilities and transit passengers.
A final infection control audit by the Ministry of Health will occur before the first quarantine-free flights.
''The full separation of travellers based on health risk is something we've been preparing to manage for some time now, working with government border agencies and health officials on the solution.''
The physical works have been completed and a number of flights have been processed through the Health Management area since December to test and refine the passenger process.
While Auckland Airport will be ready to begin processing passengers through the two different zones when quarantine-free travel resumes, passengers will need to prepare themselves for changes at the airport if they haven't been here for more than a year, said Littlewood.
Auckland Airport has been using the period of low passenger volumes to continue upgrading our roading network, both on-precinct and, alongside NZTA and AT, on SH20B, the main road into the airport from the south.
"We ask that people carefully follow directions and signage on the roads as it's possible things have changed since they were last catching a flight,'' said Littlewood.
The total number of international passenger flights* operating per week to/from Auckland Airport is down by 92 per cent (January 2020 at 1200 flights per week compared to January 2021 at 100 flights per week)
The number of international passenger destinations that Auckland Airport is now connected to is down by half to 20 and the number of airlines operating international passenger services regularly to Auckland Airport is down 52 per cent (29 international airlines had passenger services to/from Auckland in January 2021, that number is now 14 airlines).
Virgin Australia - which had been hoping to resume services in June - has pushed that out to October.
The New Zealand Government's decision to establish quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand was a step in the right direction and provides a boost of confidence for travellers looking to reunite with family and friends and do business across the Tasman, a spokesman said.
While the airline remained committed to transtasman flying when the market fully recovers, it was mindful of evolving border requirements which add complexity to its business as it pushed ahead with plans to grow our core domestic Australia operations.
"For this reason, we have suspended the sale of most New Zealand services until October 31."
A limited schedule for flights to and from Queenstown will remain available for booking from September 18.
"We are working with Air New Zealand to provide impacted customers with alternative options and will be contacting them directly. In all cases, options to select new travel dates or obtain a refund to the original form of payment are being made available."