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In pictures: Hugs, tears as Australia-New Zealand travel bubble opens

The bubble was hailed as a major milestone in restarting a global travel industry that has been crippled by the pandemic.
Updated 19 Apr, 2021 05:16pm

Families reunited in emotional scenes on Monday as Australia and New Zealand launched a quarantine-free travel bubble that opened the border almost 400 days after its pandemic-enforced closure.

There were group hugs and enthusiastic welcomes at airport terminals on both sides of the Tasman Sea as the long-awaited bubble sparked joy and relief.

On a grass embankment at the foot of Wellington Airport's runway, the words “WELCOME WHANAU” (family) were spelled out in giant letters and Maori dancers performed a traditional greeting in the terminal.

The bubble, which followed months of negotiations between the largely coronavirus-free neighbours, was hailed as a major milestone in restarting a global travel industry that has been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The arrangement means that for the first time since Covid-19 closed borders worldwide, passengers can fly between Australia and New Zealand without undergoing mandatory quarantine on arrival.

A passenger arriving from Sydney at the Wellington International Airport hugs a loved one in Wellington, New Zealand Monday. — AP
A passenger arriving from Sydney at the Wellington International Airport hugs a loved one in Wellington, New Zealand Monday. — AP

A giant sign painted near the main runway of the Wellington International Airport greets travellers returning home in Wellington, New Zealand Monday, April 19. The sign reads “Welcome Whanau” with the second word an Indigenous Maori word meaning family. — AP
A giant sign painted near the main runway of the Wellington International Airport greets travellers returning home in Wellington, New Zealand Monday, April 19. The sign reads “Welcome Whanau” with the second word an Indigenous Maori word meaning family. — AP

A family reunites upon their arrival from New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on April 19. — AFP
A family reunites upon their arrival from New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on April 19. — AFP

A family reunites upon arrival from New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on April 19. — AFP
A family reunites upon arrival from New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on April 19. — AFP

Danny Mather, right, and other family members wait at the Wellington International Airport for the arrival of Mather's pregnant daughter Kristy in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday. — AP
Danny Mather, right, and other family members wait at the Wellington International Airport for the arrival of Mather's pregnant daughter Kristy in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday. — AP

A mother (R) embraces her daughter upon her arrival from New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on April 19. — AFP
A mother (R) embraces her daughter upon her arrival from New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on April 19. — AFP

Families are reunited as travellers arrive on the first flight from Sydney, in Wellington on April 19. — AFP
Families are reunited as travellers arrive on the first flight from Sydney, in Wellington on April 19. — AFP

Families wait to be reunited as travellers arrive on the first flight from Sydney, in Wellington on April 19. — AFP
Families wait to be reunited as travellers arrive on the first flight from Sydney, in Wellington on April 19. — AFP

Families are reunited as travellers arrive on the first flight from Sydney, in Wellington on April 19. — AFP
Families are reunited as travellers arrive on the first flight from Sydney, in Wellington on April 19. — AFP

A family takes photos before their flight for New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on April 19. — AFP
A family takes photos before their flight for New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on April 19. — AFP

Travellers proceed to the check-in counters for New Zealand flights at Sydney International Airport on April 19, as Australia and New Zealand opened a trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel bubble. — AFP
Travellers proceed to the check-in counters for New Zealand flights at Sydney International Airport on April 19, as Australia and New Zealand opened a trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel bubble. — AFP

Families are reunited as travellers arrive on the first flight from Sydney, in Wellington on April 19. — AFP
Families are reunited as travellers arrive on the first flight from Sydney, in Wellington on April 19. — AFP


Header image: A woman (R) hugs a family member before his departure for New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on April 19. — AFP