Air New Zealand will continue to operate its reduced domestic schedule after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the nation’s lockdown would be extended.
The news means limited daily flights will still operate from Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin for essential workers or for reasons approved by the government.
PM Ardern said on Monday ‘alert level 4’ restrictions would continue until at least 11:59pm on Friday, 27 August nationwide and in Auckland until at least 11:59pm on Tuesday, 31 August, following the recording of 35 new cases overnight.
“Customers who are booked to travel during Alert Level 4 do not need to do anything,” said Air New Zealand in its statement.
Passengers will receive a cancellation email, and their booking will be held in credit as long as they book a flight within the next 12 months from the day – with 12 months after to redeem it.
As the nation remains in Alert Level 4 lockdown, customers who still need to travel will have to carry a letter of evidence “confirming they are travelling for essential services”, the statement added.
Customers returning from Rarotonga, part of the Cook Islands, will be “accommodated” and able to travel home as part of the reduced schedule.
In early August, Air New Zealand increased its flight seat capacity for customers travelling to Rarotonga by 11,000 as demand increased and the nation had been virus-free for months.
The domestic network for this week will be limited to a maximum of two return services daily for some routes, such as Auckland–Christchurch and Wellington–Christchurch.
Other services, such as Auckland-Wellington, Nelson-Wellington, Christchurch-Dunedin and Auckland-Christchurch will operate one return flight daily.
The recent outbreak began when one case of COVID-19 was found on 17 August, causing a three-day snap lockdown, which has now been extended as the Delta variant spreads.
Most have been recorded in Auckland – the epicenter of the spread – with only a few found in Wellington.
“The safest option for all of us right now is to hold the course for longer,” PM Ardern said.
“There remain a number of unanswered questions, and with Delta more certainty is needed.”
She added the country will continue its elimination strategy by increasing vaccinations to get to a “point where we can remove our restrictions again.”
As of 17 August, 19.4 per cent of the population have been fully vaccinated, with 2.61 million doses distributed across the nation.
The new schedule is below: