Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group

The COVID19 pandemic resulted in the closure of trans-Tasman air travel by both governments in March 2020.

Plans for re-opening trans-Tasman travel gathered momentum in May 2020 with the establishment of a new business-led expert group to investigate and develop recommended solutions for the safe reopening of borders between Australia and New Zealand.

The ANZLF announced the formation of the ‘Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group’ on 5th May following the joint announcement by the Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers of their commitment to introducing a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone as soon as it was safe to do so. This Group was lead by the ANZLF Tourism Sector Group Co-Chairs, Margy Osmond and Scott Tasker. 

The Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group was a joint working group made up of health experts and airline, airport and border agency representatives from each country who were tasked with developing a comprehensive proposal for safely reopening the air border for Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents without the need for a 14-day compulsory quarantine or self-isolation period on arrival in the destination country.

The goal was to develop a package of recommendations for sharing with Ministers on both sides of the Tasman as they would make the final decision on when and how the air border could be safely reopened.

The group focussed on two core workstreams - airfield, crew, aircraft and other ground handling and operational components, and a second workstream focused on passengers, including inflight protocols, border processing, embarking and disembarking and robust health requirements, such as testing and contact tracing for visitors in country. The Group held an intensive series of meetings over a 5 week period to develop a plan for both governments to consider for the reopening of the trans-Tasman border when it was deemed safe to do so.

Establishing Australia-New Zealand travel was essential to support important links that are vital to both economies, particularly tourism which was seriously impacted by the border closures.

Working Groups

The TTSBG involved a number of working groups operating on a fast working model to reach solutions quickly and efficiently.

The five working groups were supported by a Health Advisory Panel comprising nominees from the Ministry of Health, Auckland District Health Board and Air New Zealand’s Chief Medical Officer.  That Advisory Panel had input into all of the working groups.

The working groups comprised subject matter experts drawn from:

  • key airports (including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane)
  • key airlines (including Air New Zealand and Qantas and the Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand Inc.)
  • key government departments (including the New Zealand Ministry of Health, Internal Affairs, Immigration NZ, MBIE, Ministry of Transport, Ministry for Primary Industries, NZ Customs, Aviation Security Service and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Australian Border Force.)

The five working groups brought  a deep focus of attention to five elements of the traveller journey:

  • Pre-travel (booking)
  • Outbound travel (at the airport)
  • In-flight
  • Inbound (at the airport)
  • At destination

The working groups engaged regularly with the Health Advisory Panel and regularly reported progress to a group of Senior Sponsors whose role was to provide feedback and questions at key points during the process. 

Read the press releases below