Direct flights between Tasmania and New Zealand could be up and running as early as March.
Work is ongoing to set up biosecurity and border force capabilities at Hobart International Airport, which hasn’t welcomed direct flights from New Zealand for more than 20 years.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said the upgrades were on track to be completed around mid-March.
“Out of all of the countries that are our close neighbours, the one that we have the strongest and most likely chance of having a travel bubble operating would be New Zealand,” he told reporters on Monday.
“So I think it’s important that we’ve taken the steps so we can play a part in that.”
New Zealand has gone five days without community coronavirus transmission after three cases were discovered last month in people who’d left Auckland quarantine.
Tasmania’s last coronavirus infection was almost two months ago, with the most recent case of community transmission occurring in May.
There are hopes for a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand if case numbers allow.
Mr Gutwein said Tasmania’s pursuit of direct flights was worthwhile despite often-changing border restrictions.
“We’ve (now) moved to domestic travel. If you go back four months ago that was looking increasingly difficult,” he said.
Scott Morrison in November announced the federal government would chip in $50 million to help allow 130 direct flights between Hobart and New Zealand per year.
Tasmania is open to all of Australia, bar Perth and Western Australia’s Peel and South West regions after a Perth hotel quarantine worker tested positive.