22 Feb 2009

Common border ahead for Trans-Tasman flights

7:22 am on 22 February 2009

Trans-Tasman flights are reportedly to be reclassified as domestic routes, removing immigration procedures and cutting fares.

The Sydney Morning Herald website said on Sunday that quarantine, security and immigration issues are to be addressed to make the route a common border.

An open skies bilateral agreement is already in place between the two countries.

After two years of discussions, Australian and New Zealand Customs are planning trials to clear passengers before they board flights between the countries.

Three Australian automated border processing "smartgate" kiosks were installed at Auckland international airport last September to speed up entry into Australia.

The trials will look at creating a clearance system similar to those used for passengers travelling from Canada into the United States and in Europe across European Union countries.

Once they are cleared at their point of origin, passengers enter any port as a domestic visitor.

The SMH website said Air New Zealand, Qantas, Jetstar and Pacific Blue believe the move could result in fares being cut by up to 30%