Perth Airport in Western Australia opened its doors today to international travel, allowing passengers from New Zealand to travel to the country without having to quarantine. The first Air New Zealand non-stop service arrived from Auckland around 2 pm Western Standard Time.
“This is a big step for Western Australia’s Covid-19 recovery and it’s essential that we all take the extra time to make sure we got it right,” commented Perth Airport CEO Kevin Brown.
The international opening comes after Australia and New Zealand announced a Trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel scheme, which, after more than a year of restrictions, will allow passengers and residents of both countries to visit without 14 days of quarantine.
The scheme will foster an economic reprise for both countries while allowing to keep the Covid-19 pandemic under control.
“Today’s milestone is a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe and just in time for ANZAC Day,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a joint statement with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“Both countries have done a remarkable job in protecting our communities from COVID and two-way flights are an important step in our road out,” he continued.
“It is truly exciting to start quarantine-free travel with Australia. Be it returning family, friends or holidaymakers, New Zealand says welcome and enjoy yourself,” Ardern added.
According to Brown, the Trans-Tasman scheme will help Western Australia’s economy get back on its feet, as tourism was one of the state’s main economic drivers, generating more than 100,000 jobs and AUD12bn per year.
“We know that the introduction of one new international route can add AUD70m to the economy and this travel bubble provides a massive opportunity for the Western Australian tourism industry which has been significantly hit by the virus,” Brown explained.
To keep air travel risks to a minimum, airports will be forced to implement a green zone operational model, a series of physical and procedural processes to avoid passengers coming from red zones to one from green zones.
According to the model, green zone passengers – those coming from ports on the Australian Government’s safe list – will need to be “segregated” from other passengers, to mitigate the risk of cross-contamination.
The system involves the separation of red zones from green ones at border control queueing as well as baggage claims, where red zone flights will only arrive and disembark after green zone flights have finished all procedures.
“Our shared goal is to keep the community safe from Covid-19 and we will work with the Western Australian Government and authorities to ensure our airport processes meet their standard,” Brown concluded.
Perth is not the only airport in the country to open up, with media outlets such as the BBC or Reuters ready to record the reactions of first passengers at hubs such as Sydney Airport.