Air New Zealand has boosted its schedule, reopened some airport lounges, and resumed valet services as the nation transitions into Alert Level 2 restrictions amid a curb in the current COVID-19 outbreak.
Under the new restrictions – which will go into effect 11:59pm Tuesday – all regions except Auckland will be able to return to school, offices, businesses, and regional travel will reopen again.
“It’s encouraging to see the rest of NZ move to Alert Level 2,” said Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty.
“Our customers can expect to see our lounges in Wellington, Christchurch, and the regions reopen; and valet services resume in Christchurch.”
She said that in line with the government announcements, the lounges will operate at a capacity limit of 50 people.
“We’re looking forward to giving customers across New Zealand a warm Air New Zealand welcome soon,” Geraghty said.
Between Saturday and Monday, New Zealand reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 per day, far below the peak of 83 on 29 August.
Although Auckland – the epicentre of the outbreak – will remain in Alert Level 4 lockdown, Air New Zealand has increased its flight schedule to accommodate the easing of restrictions elsewhere in the country.
Routes such as Wellington-Nelson will operate 36 return services per week and Christchurch-Nelson will operate 28 return services per week. Previously, Air New Zealand was forced to cull services down to two per week, as travel remained largely restricted.
Food and beverage services will remain suspended and masks are still compulsory inflight to reduce risk of transmission.
“While the country has been under Alert Level 3 and 4 for the past few weeks, it may take a few days to return to our full lounge service offering, but we’ll be working with suppliers to ensure this is as seamless as possible,” said Geraghty.
For those living in Auckland or those wishing not to travel, Air New Zealand has maintained its flexibility policy extension to 31 October.
“This means, in addition to allowing a waiver of the change fee, customers can place their booking in credit if their travel plans have changed,” said the press release.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the easing of restrictions at a press conference on Monday, but remains committed to the elimination strategy.
The strategy will see just under 1.7 million citizens in Auckland remain in lockdown until the rate of new cases eases.
“We are within sight of elimination, but we can’t drop the ball,” she said.
“Day by day, we are making very good progress. What I don’t want to do is move too quickly and then see a resurgence.”