Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeGeneral TourismAuckland Airport welcomes quarantine-free travellers

Auckland Airport welcomes quarantine-free travellers

For the first time in nearly 10 months, international arrivals into Auckland Airport can walk directly into the arms of loved ones.

The touch-down of the first quarantine-free flight from the Cook Islands today will be a special moment for Cook Islanders in both countries who are now able to reconnect more easily, says Auckland Airport general manager aeronautical commercial Scott Tasker.

“Air travel is important for trade, business or just heading off on an exciting adventure – and also for connecting friends and whanau for life’s precious moments is what really makes it special,” says Scott.

“I know the Auckland Airport team have missed seeing those wonderful welcomes in our arrivals hall.”

Passengers arriving from the Cook Islands will use a streamlined Safe Travel Path, which uses airline slot management, rigorous cleaning and other operational tools to create separation between Cook Island travellers and those passengers arriving from other parts of the world.

“We know that airports have a vital role in managing the risks of COVID-19 transmission. In what is a highly complex operational system of interconnected organisations, it’s been through hard work and collective effort that the first quarantine-free flights into New Zealand since April 2020 have become operational,” says Scott.

While Auckland Airport has prepared to separate its international terminal into two self-contained zones – a Health Management zone for arrivals needing to go into managed isolation and quarantine, and a Safe Travel zone for arrivals from countries with which New Zealand has formed two-way, safe travel bubbles – these separated zones won’t operate for the Cook Islands arrivals.

The expectation of only two flights per week under the one-way, quarantine-free arrangement with the Cook Islands made a Safe Travel Path a practical interim step, following discussions with border agencies and government officials.

He says allowing quarantine-free flights from a COVID-free country like the Cook Islands is a small, but important, first step in the recovery of the aviation and tourism sector.

“Taking a careful and staged, risk-based approach to re-opening the New Zealand border will be crucial in re-establishing regular, reliable airlinks with the Pacific Islands and beyond.

“We are a long way from the 15,000 people that would have walked through our international arrivals doors daily this time last year, but what we’ve seen with domestic air travel is that people are keen to fly again when lockdown restrictions are lifted. We now have domestic travel volumes at around 60 per cent of what they were pre-COVID.

“Previously we had around 1.4 million people travel to and from the Pacific Islands through Auckland Airport each year on eight different airlines. We expect it will take some time to get those air connections re-established.”

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