"Rebook your flights," the prime minister Jacinda Ardern has told travellers set to arrive from Australia before the 19 April start of the safe-travel zone.
The quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand is set to come into effect in a fortnight. However, there will be no lenience for travellers on the way to a place in MIQ from Australia.
"For anyone who is currently there now – nothing is lost," the PM said following the announcement of the new safe-travel arrangement. "We are asking anyone who is currently there to finish up their time."
Those passengers currently booked onto services arriving before 19 April face the prospect of 14 days isolation unnecessarily.
"You'd want to avoid spending any longer there than you'd need to." Advising travellers to book travel for 19 April onwards and cancelling any un-needed MIQ spaces.
Air New Zealand's international flexibility policy has been extended allowing passengers with flights scheduled to depart before 11:59pm on 31 December 2021 to cancel for flight credit or rebook, for the difference in fares.
The announcement was "terrific news" according to airline boss Greg Foran.
"I know Kiwis and Australians have been wanting to reconnect with whānau and friends for a year now and we're incredibly excited to be playing a part in those reunions."
This morning Air New Zealand said it would be setting up a team to review credit refunds on compassionate grounds for passengers affected by Covid-19.
The national carrier will be upping capacity from 19 April onward, with 13 quarantine-free services to Australia, from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. There would be additional destinations added through June, though the inaugural Auckland to Hobart service was yet to be given a launch date.
Qantas and Jetstar have also announced 122 transtasman flights a week, including new Auckland to Cairns and Auckland to Gold Coast routes.
Qantas' Domestic and International CEO Andrew David, hoped missed weddings and birthdays on the other side of the ditch will "now be a thing of the past."
"We know Australians are keen to head overseas again, so we expect strong demand for flights to New Zealand," he said, "and there are many Kiwis who can't wait for a winter escape to warmer weather in Australia."
Not everyone was delighted by the announcement of quarantine-free travel.
The two-way travel corridor is likely to be extremely uneven. Prior to the Covid 19 pandemic, New Zealand contributed 1.4 million Kiwis visited Australia a year, and 1.5 Aussies travelled in the other direction. This represents 40 per cent of New Zealand's short term arrivals, but only around 15 per cent or Australia's inbound travel.
New Zealand forecasts an 80 per cent return of Australian travel by 2022 – with "early travellers coming to see family and friends."
Australian Federation of Travel Agents said the trickle of inbound Kiwis may be too little, too late for many businesses.
"It's not a massive increase in business and our sector still desperately needs support but it is a much needed step in the right direction," said chair Tom Manwaring.
The principle of "flyer beware", and advice for travellers to plan for possible travel disruption, did not fill the Travel Agents with confidence.
"We urge both the Australian and the New Zealand governments to do all they can to ensure now the corridor is open that it stays open," he said.
It is predicted that the Transtasman corridor will free up to 1800 spaces in MIQ per fortnight. However there was reluctance to commit to releasing these rooms immediately to inbound travellers. There would have to be further assessment of the "swapping low-risk arrivals for arrivals from high-risk locations".