The first quarantine-free flight from Australia has arrived at Auckland Airport, after 400 days of planning.
Jetstar service JQ201 from Sydney is the first arrival from Australia in over a year that will allow passengers to bypass a lengthy MIQ stay and fees.
Touching around midday, after minor delay, it will be the first of 200 Jetstar flights on the Transtasman bubble route this week. While the demand for these flights is predicted to build towards Spring, the first flights are "close to full capacity" according to Jetstar.
"Quarantine-free travel has been almost 400 days in the making," said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, which owns the Australian carrier.
"Reopening these flights across the Tasman is a very important milestone in the recovery from the pandemic for Australia and New Zealand but also aviation and tourism," he said.
Air New Zealand's first 'green flight' from Australia has also departed for Wellington.
NZ246 is the carrier's first quarantine-free service to from Australia, and will be reuniting friends and whanau after over a year separated by travel restrictions. The service will touch down at Wellington Airport at 1pm.
"For over 400 days, New Zealanders have needed to isolate on return to Aotearoa. Now, both Kiwis and Aussies can enter freely so this is an incredibly emotional day," said Short Haul Inflight Service Manager Craig Suckling.
"Our flights into New Zealand from Australia are at 97% capacity today so you can picture what the airports look like!"
Prior to the Covid 19 pandemic, Australia was the closest and biggest market for New Zealand.
First across the ditch are friends and family, with personal reunions being the biggest driver of flights today.
"People have been waiting for the Transtasman bubble to open" reported travel writer Juliette Sivertsen at Auckland Airport this morning. "So they haven't wasted any time jumping on the first flight they could over there."
"There are a lot of people who have grandchildren, sisters, sick relatives. Lots of families I've spoken to, all are expecting it to be a very tearful reunion when they finally make it over there."
What returning Kiwis need to know about flying from Australia
Who can travel to Australia?
Anyone who has been in no country other than New Zealand or Australia for the past 14 days can travel between the two, quarantine free.
They must also
– Not be awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
– Not have had a positive COVID-19 test in the previous 14 days
– Not be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, with or without a fever
– Travellers must have filled out a separate travel declaration for travelling to Australia, and returning to New Zealand at least 72 hours before departure.
Keep up to date on the latest Covid 19 travel information at the Unite Against COVID-19 portal, and be aware that travel restrictions are subject to change with little warning.