Air New Zealand Suspends Flights to Cook Islands and Melbourne

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Air New Zealand 777-300ER ZK-OKP Hobbit
Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER with "The Airline of Middle-earth" livery at Brisbane Airport. Photo: Edwin Leong / CC BY-SA

Air New Zealand decided to cancel its passenger service from Auckland to Rarotonga, Cook Islands after consultation with the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

However, the airline will continue to operate outbound cargo flights to Avarua Rarotonga International Airport and the return service will carry passengers to Auckland, the largest city of New Zealand.

“The decision was made not to carry passengers out of Auckland due to the city currently being at Alert Level 3,” said Air New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran.

“The Cook Islands has so far had no cases of COVID-19 and we want to make sure we are doing the right thing for both countries in terms of safety and wellbeing. That’s why we have taken the precautionary decision not to carry passengers out of Auckland on tomorrow’s service. We are contacting affected customers directly to let them know their options.”

Air New Zealand Boeing 777-200ER at Avarua Rarotonga International Airport
Air New Zealand Boeing 777-200ER at Avarua Rarotonga International Airport. Photo: Follash / Public domain

The Auckland Region entered COVID-19 Alert Level 3 due to increase in novel coronavirus cases, forcing Air New Zealand to review its services.

Air New Zealand has also limited bookings to Australia further due to travel restrictions imposed by Australian Government.

The Australian Government has extended the limitation on international flights until October 24. There is currently a cap of 25 passenger arrivals per flight into Brisbane and around 40 passenger arrivals per flight into Sydney. International passenger arrivals into Melbourne are not currently permitted.

“The airline is placing a hold on future bookings to Melbourne until late October to prevent further disruption to customer journeys,” said Air New Zealand Chief Commercial and Customer Officer Cam Wallace.

Air New Zealand Chief Commercial and Customer Officer Cam Wallace says the airline is placing a hold on future bookings to Melbourne until late October to prevent further disruption to customer journeys.

“We know this is not an ideal situation for people wanting to return home to Australia and our teams are working to minimise disruption to customers as much as possible. We’d like to thank our customers for their patience at this time as we work to comply with these government restrictions.

“When it comes to flights to Sydney, we do have availability from early September for those who wish to book. With Brisbane, while there is currently a hold on new bookings, we expect flights may become available as customers make changes to their bookings or no longer wish to travel, so customers should keep an eye out on our website.”

Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner landing at Perth Airport. Photo:Darren Koch GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2

Air New Zealand Strengthens Its Coronavirus Policy

Air New Zealand has updated its travel policy following the Prime Minister of New Zealand’s announcement that the Auckland Region would enter COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

Air New Zealand’s Latest Coronavirus Rules

  • Customers on flights departing Auckland will be required to wear masks. They are welcome to bring their own, or these will be provided by the airline. It is also recommended customers travelling from other ports wear masks, however this will not be a requirement.
  • Air New Zealand Auckland-based front of house employees and domestic cabin crew will wear masks and gloves, and pilots will wear masks when interacting with customers or moving through the terminal.
  • Customers are encouraged to check in for their flight via the Air New Zealand app, and allow extra time to process through check-in and security.
  • For those checking in at larger airports, every second self-service kiosk will be operating to support social distancing. There will also be floor markers for queuing at check-in counters, service desks, bag drops and departure gates, and fewer customers will be boarded and disembarked at a time
  • Inflight, seating will be allocated to allow an empty seat between customers travelling alone from Thursday through to Sunday. The airline will aim to keep families and some travelling companions together, so there may be some people sitting together with no additional space between them.
  • Food and beverage services on all domestic flights will not be available to minimise contact between customers and cabin crew. Customers should let cabin crew know if they would like a cup of water.
  • The inflight magazine Kia Ora will be removed from seat pockets and Air New Zealand lollies won’t be handed out inflight across the domestic network.
  • Air New Zealand’s Auckland lounges and valet parking will close at midday.
  • Unaccompanied Minors with an existing booking will be able to travel. The airline is not accepting new bookings for Unaccompanied Minors at this time.

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