International travel could be closer with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Arden today meeting in New Zealand to discuss extending the Trans-Tasman travel bubble to Pacific Island countries, including Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and more.
Mr Morrison told reporters, “We are supporting our Pacific family and the idea of a bubble that goes beyond New Zealand and Australia is a real possibility.”
Mr Morrison spoke excitedly about the success of the New Zealand travel bubble.
“Quarantine-free travel not only means the Prime Minister and I can hold our annual talks in person, it highlights that our travel bubble is seeing friends and family reunite across the ditch.”
“Here we are, two countries – some 18 months later – two countries that have weathered the storm of COVID arguably better than any two countries anywhere else in the world, both from saving lives as well as saving livelihoods.”
It isn’t yet completely clear what countries could join the bubble, but Mr Morrison said Australian has been closely working with Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and East Timor.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told Sunrise that he was extremely excited about the development.
“The more bubbles the better, because we activate more aircraft, get more people back to work and help the tourism industries in the countries that are very dependent on tourism.”
This is extremely welcome news after previously touted travel bubbles such as Singapore and Taiwan have been thrown into jeopardy by COVID outbreaks.
After the government, as part of the federal budget previously that international travel was extremely unlikely until mid 2022, morale for hopeful travellers was scraping the ocean floor. However, the tides appear to be slowly turning.
In another positive indication for international travel, Mr Joyce also made it clear to Today that Qantas still fully intends on resuming international flights by the end of the year.
“We are still planning to be ready at the end of this calendar year. We are activating the aircraft, we are training our crew, the government has given us a support package to do that and have asked us to be ready.”
“I’m hopeful by the time we get to July-August we will have some certainty on which markets will open and what they will open, so we can give certainty to our travelling public and to our people about when they are going to be back at work.”