Air New Zealand has announced it will continue to operate its current domestic flight schedule for 48 hours, to assist residents return to their homes, as the country enters into a snap lockdown.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced overnight that the whole country would be placed into ‘level four’ restrictions for three days, following one reported case of COVID-19. Auckland and Coromandel will lock down for up to seven days.
Cases rose by four this morning, and the snap lockdown may be extended.
Under level four restrictions, travel is only permitted for essential services, which has seen flag-carrier Air New Zealand forced to slash future services.
However, the airline has pledged to continue its regular scheduled services for the next two days in order to assist New Zealanders return home to their place of residence.
Food and beverage services onboard will be suspended until further notice, in order to reduce contact with customers, and airport lounges will be closed.
Despite the surprise snap lockdown, Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said the airline has prepared for this scenario.
“We want to remind customers that we’ve been here before and have built capability to work through the changes,” he said. “Our teams will be working hard over the next 48 hours to get Kiwis to where they need to be and we ask that customers please be patient and appreciate our staff are doing their very best.”
Customers with existing domestic bookings for travel between 17 August and 24 August will be able to change their booking with change fees and any fare difference waived through to 31 August, the airline said.
Additionally, customers who hold a ticket for a domestic flight scheduled to depart up until 30 September are able to opt for airline credit.
Meanwhile, Auckland Airport, the country’s biggest airport, will also remain open and operational for 48 hours before domestic travel becomes largely restricted to essential travel.
International flights for arrivals into MIQ and from Rarotonga will still be operating, the airport said, and access to the terminals will be restricted to passengers travelling that day.
The airport noted that businesses within the terminal will largely remain closed, and food and beverage options both in the airport and onboard flights will be limited. The airport advises passengers to come prepared.
Passengers will have their documents checked before entering the terminal, and may have their reason for travel questioned. Passengers will also need to scan their COVID-19 Tracer app on arrival.
Masks continue to be required both in the terminal and onboard flights, as well on public transport to and from the airport.