Covid 19 coronavirus: Airlines hit ready, set, go on green flights

With Kiwis stranded in Melbourne set to return home, the Ministry of Health will deliver its latest Covid update on any local cases.

The update, released via a statement, is due to be issued at 1pm.

New Zealanders stranded in Melbourne after it was plunged back into lockdown two weeks ago will start returning home on “green flights” from tomorrow afternoon.

The special arrangement enables kiwis stuck in Victoria the chance to get home on quarantine-free “green flights” despite the bubble between New Zealand and Melbourne remaining paused.

The green flights are aimed at the thousands of New Zealand citizens who have been stuck in the state’s lockdown while it battles a new emergence of community cases. They also apply to Australian citizens who hold current permanent residence visas and temporary residents who departed New Zealand after 6 April.

The first Air New Zealand flight from Melbourne arrives in Auckland tomorrow night.
There will be then two flights a day between Melbourne and Auckland and, from 11 June, daily flights from Melbourne to Queenstown, Wellington and Christchurch.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson said they were seeing a pent up demand in the first few days of green flights starting.

The return green flights will end when the travel bubble re-opens. Flights remain paused until at least 10 June.

As of Monday, Victoria had two new cases acquired locally and one from overseas bringing its total number of active cases to 92.

Travellers must have a negative pre-departure test and those who have been at a location of interest cannot travel to New Zealand from any border in Australia within 14 days of exposure — even if they have produced a negative Covid-19 test.

Experts earlier told the Herald the risk of those returning to New Zealand on “green flights” bringing the Covid-19 virus with them remained “very low”.

Authorities said the lockdown meant travellers would have spent the equivalent of two weeks in isolation so were not required to go stay in a managed isolation facility.

They would be tested both on departure and arrival.

Despite Monday’s cases and concerns of the new more-infectious Delta variant rising, epidemiologist Dr Michael Baker said the risk continued to be “very low” and there were “very good measures in place”.

“There would always be a low risk of anyone bringing the virus back with them at the current rate of infection there, but with the lockdown and needing a test there and when they get back I think absolutely the risk remains very low.”

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