LATEST @ 1.30 PM | It’s been another emotional day at Gold Coast Airport after the first flight from New Zealand in more than seven months touched down.
Air New Zealand A321 landed just after 9.30am on Wednesday with passengers on board treated to a special “Gold Coast welcome back” as they strolled through the terminal.
The celebrations included a performance from the Biren Aboriginal Dance Group, greetings from our themepark characters and welcome back gift packs featuring Tim Tams.
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Hugs, tears and kisses were in full force as family and friends were finally able to reunite with their loved ones from across the ditch.
Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills said today marked an important moment for the city’s tourism sector.
“We are extremely pleased to have Air New Zealand back and the return of this service will be welcomed by the large number of New Zealanders who live on the Gold Coast and northern NSW but want to travel over the ‘ditch’ regularly to see family and friends,” he said.
“There are about 50,000 Kiwis living on the Gold Coast and it has been a challenging two years for loved ones wanting to see each other in both places.”
Mr Mills said it was hoped other connections between the Coast and New Zealand would also be re-established soon.
“Pre-COVID-19, we also had flights between the Gold Coast and Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown and we would like to have them back as soon as possible,” he said.
Before the pandemic, more than 550,000 people travelled between the Gold Coast and New Zealand making it the airport’s largest international market.
“The New Zealand market is one of the strongest for the Gold Coast,” Mr Mills said.
“It was also the city’s second-largest international visitor market source, behind China.”
From today, kiwis also no longer need to isolate when they return to New Zealand from Australia.
EARLIER @ 6.30 AM | Emotions will be running high at Gold Coast Airport today after the first flight from New Zealand in more than seven months touches down.
It’s been more than 240 days since the travel bubble paused, cutting off travel between the two countries.
But reunions will be in full force this morning when loved ones from Air New Zealand’s A321 flight return to the glitter strip.
The flight arrival coincides with a further easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated Kiwis from 11.59pm Wednesday, who no longer need to self-isolate when they get back to New Zealand from Australia.
According to Gold Coast Airport, passengers who touch down today will receive a “special Gold Coast welcome back”, including a performance from the Biren Aboriginal Dance Group, live entertainment, theme park characters and giveaways.
Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said it’s an exciting time.
“We expect to have more than 300 flights available between New Zealand and Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast for the month of March alone,” Geraghty said.
“Once we have a clearer view as to the level of demand, we will adjust the schedule accordingly, but we’re confident there will be seats available.”