'Trans-Tasman bubble' between Australia and New Zealand could open in September

The travel industry group working on a “Trans-Tasman bubble” says it will present plans to open travel between Australia and New Zealand to both governments early next month, with flights set to resume as early as September.

The governments have been discussing the possibility of allowing people to travel across the Tasman without having to undergo 14 days of quarantine, given both countries have successfully slowed the rate of COVID-19 transmission.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday she spoke to her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Tuesday and both were keen to move forward with the idea “as quickly as we can”.

"It won't be too long before we are ready," she said at a press conference.

The Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group - an alliance of more than 40 airports, airlines, health specialists and governments on both sides of the Tasman - has been working on a plan to restart air travel for the past two weeks and will be ready to present it to both governments early next month.

“We are poring over every detail and aspect of the customer journey to find a safe and practical way forward, for the review and consideration of our respective governments,” said Margy Osmond, the group’s co-chair and chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum Australia.

"We would be expecting that to commence as early as September."

The plan considers passengers’ pre-flight health requirements and eligibility, protections on board planes, how passengers move through airports and contact-tracing requirements once travellers reach their destination.

New Zealand was the most popular outbound travel destination for Australians prior to COVID-19, with 1.5 million arrivals in 2019 accounting for 40 per cent of all visitors.

After China, New Zealand was the second largest source of visitors to Australia in 2019, with 1.4 million visitors accounting for 15 per cent of the arrivals into the country.