Air New Zealand has extended a halt on all inbound international bookings until 29 July as the country attempts to better manage its quarantine centres.
However, chief executive Greg Foran has reassured Kiwis struggling to return home there were will be additional capacity in August.
“We recognise we play an important part in supporting the government and New Zealand’s fight against COVID-19,” said Foran.
“We have extended a hold on new bookings until 29 July, to ensure we comply with the rolling 14-day quota. Following this there is capacity for Kiwis to book flights to return home and we will continue to manage this going forward.”
The business said it is encouraging customers who wish to cancel to do so soon in order to free up space for other repatriations. Outbound international and all domestic flights are not affected by the decision.
The original decision to stem arrivals, announced on 7 July, caught customers by surprise and led to many Kiwis taking to social media to complain.
As a short-term measure @FlyAirNZ has agreed to close out bookings for the next three weeks on international inbound sectors. We are working closely with the Govt to support NZ's continued success in its fight against covid-19. @andykirton
— Cam Wallace (@CamWallace_NZ) July 6, 2020
Days later, Australia followed with a similar policy, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison was “in the national interest”.
“There will be continuing access to Australia but the number of available positions on flights will be less and I don’t think that is surprising or unreasonable in the circumstances,” PM Morrison said.
“The decision that we took to reduce the number of returned travellers to Australia at this time was to ensure that we could put our focus on the resources needed to do the testing and [contact] tracing and not have to have resources diverted to other tasks.”