'A very long time coming': Flights to Aussie from Christchurch take off

Travellers waiting to board flights to Australia from Christchurch. Photo: George Heard
Travellers waiting to board flights to Australia from Christchurch. Photo: George Heard
Excited travellers are gathering at Christchurch Airport ready to embark on the first quarantine-free international flights from the city in more than a year.

Six return flights to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney followed the transtasman bubble opening at 11.59 on Sunday night.

Departures from Christchurch took off at about 10am on Monday, and arrivals were expected to land just before 2.30pm.

Chief aeronautical officer Justin Watson said it is a return to travel as it used to be - with a few extra checks.

He said loved ones reuniting with each other over the next few weeks will be followed by business and tourist travel.

Travellers waiting to board flights to Australia from Christchurch. Photo: George Heard
Travellers waiting to board flights to Australia from Christchurch. Photo: George Heard
For the past year, there's only been freight travel and three flights a week from Singapore.

The first travellers from Australia landed in Christchurch this afternoon.

Aussie arrivals go through a green lane - with a separated red lane reserved for quarantine travellers.

Mother of five Lynne Olden was flying out to visit her children and said it had been a long-awaited reunion.

"It's been a very long time coming and I'm extremely excited. Five children in another country that I haven't seen in a year now.

"If there are any tears shed it'll be tears of joy, it'll just be an amazing thing to finally be there."

Christchurch Airport full with people travelling to Australia as the quarantine-free transtasman...
Christchurch Airport full with people travelling to Australia as the quarantine-free transtasman bubble opens. Photo: George Heard
Olden said she doesn't usually feel the distance but knowing she can't reach them has been tough.

"You feel absolutely cut off. There's been many, many constant messages but it's not the same."

Marko Puni planned to surprise his mother in Melbourne.

"I'm off to see my parents and my younger siblings, I haven't seen them in a year. My mum doesn't know we're coming.

"I am looking forward to it. It's very exciting, it's been way too long."

Today 2000 New Zealanders would head offshore and 3000 would arrive in the country.

It has been more than a year since a quarantine-free international flight has left Christchurch...
It has been more than a year since a quarantine-free international flight has left Christchurch Airport. Photo: George Heard
From July to September, New Zealand was expecting an influx of Aussies arriving in the South Island for skiing and expected Australian tourism to be back to 80 per cent by the beginning of 2022.

While New Zealand was still focused on opening up quarantine travel to the Cook Islands in May, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there were ways to mitigate any concerns New Zealand had if for example Australia opened up its bubble to Singapore.

A date for the Cook Islands travel bubble had yet to be set and the Cook Islands was currently setting up and training staff around its PCR testing as this was needed before it commenced, she said.

 

 

 

 

 

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