Christchurch and Wellington Airports say they are operating as normal while airlines have issued fee waivers for affected passengers as New Zealand picks up the pieces from the devastating earthquakes that struck the South Island on Sunday night.
The 7.5 magnitude earthquake centred on Hanmer Springs, a popular tourist spot about 90 minutes north of Christchurch best known for its thermal pools, triggered a tsunami alert and left two dead along with thousands of people in nearby towns isolated as landslides left roads and bridges impassable.
It was also felt as far north as Auckland, while the New Zealand capital Wellington was one of many towns and cities that lost power in the aftermath of the earthquake. Moreover, there have been hundreds of aftershocks in the hours following the initial earthquake.
Christchurch Airport said on Twitter and Facebook on Monday the airport was “open and operational”.
We hope you are safe this morning. Christchurch Airport is open and operational.
— Christchurch Airport (@CHC_Airport) November 13, 2016
Meanwhile, Wellington Airport said on Twitter and Facebook although it was open for business on Monday there may be some flight disruptions.
“The airport is operational for morning flights following a full runway inspection,” Wellington Airport said.
“Please check our website for flight status or your airlines.
“Some flights may be delayed or operate from different gates. Check our website for ✈️ status updates.
We hope everyone is safe! The airport is operational for morning flights following a full runway inspection.
— Wellington Airport (@WLGAirport) November 13, 2016
Air New Zealand said on its website affected passengers with tickets for travel to or from any New Zealand destination booked prior to Sunday November 13 would be able to defer or bring forward travel or change destinations before Monday November 21 without penalty.
“Due to the series of major earthquakes across New Zealand this morning, there may be a disruption to your travel today,” Air New Zealand said.
“We advise keeping an eye on our Arrivals and Departures page for up to date information regarding your flight, and recommend signing up to receive Travel Alert notifications.”
“Please note that our Contact Centre is currently experiencing a high volume of calls, increasing call wait times.”
Qantas said on its website passengers holding Qantas tickets for travel to Wellington or Christchurch would be able to rebook or reroute travel, change destinations or choose not to fly and receive a credit for the value of the ticket without fee.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key paid tribute to the men and women who have been at the front line of restoring access to towns and treating affected residents.
“I want to thank Civil Defence and emergency services around the country who responded so rapidly, and also those New Zealanders who supported the large number of people who were evacuated,” Key said in a statement.
Key has cancelled a planned trip to Argentina and was uncertain about attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ meeting in Peru due to take place November 19-20.
The full Royal New Zealand Air Force photo gallery can be seen on the New Zealand Defence Force Facebook page: