Air New Zealand is extending the time frame for its significantly reduced network, with minimal international operations to continue through to 31 August 2020.
In response to government travel restrictions and low demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline previously announced a limited international network through to 30 June, to keep air links open for essential travel and cargo movement on key trade routes. Full schedule of international services can be found at the end of this article.
The airline will also be welcoming passengers back into its travel lounges. The airline will open Auckland Regional, Wellington Domestic and Christchurch Domestic lounges, along with nine of its regional airport lounges.
This includes regional lounges in Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Nelson, Queenstown, Dunedin and Invercargill.
Air New Zealand general manager of customer experience Nikki Goodman says while it’s great to welcome customers back to the airline’s lounges, they’ll be operating slightly differently to what people are used to.
“In line with government regulations, our self-service buffet won’t be available. Instead, customers will be required to be seated once they enter the lounge and there’ll be table service with packaged snacks on offer, as well as beverages.
“We know those travelling will be looking forward to once again being able to order a flat white before they fly and in lounges with a barista, customers will be given the choice of ordering through the Air New Zealand app, or through their server.”
The reopening of lounges, as well as an increase in demand for domestic travel, show that at least the domestic side of operations may be slowly returning towards some kind of reality. However, it’s likely to be a much longer journey before this will spread to include international operations.
The process towards recovery is likely to be slow. In an act of cost-cutting last week Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran culled his most senior executive team from nine to six, including the position of chief marketing officer.
Foran also stated that he expects it will take two years for the airline to return to even 70 per cent of its former size, and hinted more redundancies could be on the way from the airline’s “senior leadership team”.
In April, Australian Aviation revealed that the business had appointed one of the country’s most high-profile former union leaders, and a new head of HR, to advise the company on how best to make 3,500 employees redundant.
As part of the changes, chief strategy networks and alliances officer, Nick Judd, and chief marketing officer, Mike Tod, will leave on 31 May, while chief air operations and people safety officer John Whittaker will depart on 31 July.
Overall international capacity has been reduced by 95 per cent from pre-COVID-19 levels and will remain as follows til at least August.
Tasman services (per week)
Auckland-Sydney 4x return services
Auckland-Brisbane 3x return services
Auckland-Melbourne 3x return services
Pacific services (per week)
Auckland-Niue 1x return service (til 31 October)
Sydney-Norfolk 1x return service (til 24 October)
Brisbane-Norfolk 1x return service
There are a number of restrictions in place around passenger services to Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Rarotonga, New Caledonia and French Polynesia. If these restrictions end, Air New Zealand is likely to operate one return service per week from Auckland.
Long-haul services (per week)
Auckland-Los Angeles 5x return services
Auckland-Hong Kong 2x return services