There were emotional scenes at airports across the country as the Trans-Tasman bubble brought together families and loved ones from all over the ditch. Video / Mark Mitchell / Tom Dyton / AucklandNZ
Stepping on one of Sydney’s transtasman bubble flights to Wellington was cause for celebration for Vanessa Brown of news.com.au. But, he writes, the trip home was a different story.
A year later, it was the flight Australia was trying.
After the federal government closed its international borders in March as a security measure at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the fact that we had no access to the sea sent most of us to the burden of flight.
The guessing game of which destination would open first kept alive our love for travel abroad. But local outbreaks, both here and abroad, quickly brought us back to the reality that traveling abroad will take many months, if not years.
But then, on April 6, a look at pre-pandemic reality made a good comeback.
After nearly 400 days of closing borders abroad, they threw us, along with our ditch neighbors, a bone.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave us a launch date for the transtasman travel bubble, which means that Australians – and New Zealanders – could finally get their passports out and fly through the ditch without having to go into quarantine. of the hotel.
On Monday 19 April I was one of the first Australians to step on a transtasman “green zone flight”, which essentially means that everyone on board (including the crew) had only been to Australia (or New Zealand) in the past two weeks before flying.
The atmosphere was as expected. Emotions and excitement for what was waiting on the other side of Tasman ran. The families had been separated for months, if not years, and were finally on the stretch of house to reunite.
And for those who had just broken out of Australia’s borders, what better place to visit than the security and serenity of our neighboring nation.
Stepping on the first flight from Sydney to Wellington, our Air New Zealand flight bombed.
The rows were full, the champagne was flowing (even if it was in plastic cups) and the applause and applause as we went down to the capital of New Zealand was deafening.
Within the first 24 hours of visiting Wellington, there was a real rumor that the Australian accent was filling the streets once again.
“OMG you’re from Sydney … and you’re here?” A local shop assistant screamed after asking about my day.
“It’s so exciting … I can give you a hug,” his co-worker continued before luring me.
Sitting down to dinner at prominent local Charley Noble, a waitress exploded after hearing about our first flight to her hometown.
“Wow, we’re so pumped up to get the Australians back,” he smiled. “We missed you guys!”
But as I ventured through the city and even through overseas municipalities, a hidden truth became apparent.
The desperation to travel through Tasmania was not as mutual as I expected. In fact, just days after the bubble opened, Air New Zealand has already cut six flights this week after demand for travel to Australia was lower than imagined.
As bookings rose after Ardern announced the bubble, demand has cooled since family and friends have slowly gathered.
“I’ll give the bubble a few months before I head,” the waitress herself replied when I asked her if she had plans for a vacation downstairs.
“No, I still don’t have any real plans to go there … we’ll see what happens,” fired a waiter in the nearby Martinborough neighborhood, who added he had concerns about possible border closures.
Greg Foran, CEO of Air NZ, said the response, while good, has been slightly lower than expected.
“[Demand] it’s been pretty much where we wanted to be. So there’s a lot of accumulated demand that first day of Monday and a little more moderate during the week, ”he said Friday.
“It simply came to our notice then [flights], so we had to do a little shooting in the dark as to how many [flights] they will be used because the booking window is very short. A lot of people didn’t really start booking until a week ago. “
Returning from Wellington late on a Thursday afternoon and the first week of New Zealand school holidays, I made an effort to get to the international airport early to overcome what I hoped would be chaos.
But instead, the terminal remained relatively quiet. And my flight to Sydney? Well, everyone had a row for them.
Accommodation Association CEO Julie White told The AM Show that many potential travelers were still wary of making the trip. And given Australia’s response to internal border closures, it’s not really surprising.
“When announced [came out], we had a lot of reservations in New Zealand. However, it dried very quickly: in a week the reserves stopped. We are also feeling on both sides that flight schedules are starting to be reduced in May, ”he said.
“Opening the border is excellent, but it will not be the silver bullet, so the government has yet to deal with the health crisis and the economic crisis.
“We are already seeing rising prices in supply chains, so this is a prime indicator of inflationary pressures, so we need to monitor the economy and try to get more Australians to come to New Zealand.”
While the corridor is a source of hope for both the aviation industry and tourism on both sides of Tasmania, reopening travel, even in a bubble, is clearly not easy.