Air New Zealand has announced it will introduce new rules for domestic flights throughout New Zealand from mid-December, with all passengers required to either show proof of full vaccination or present a negative COVID test prior to their flight.
The policy will be in place “for an initial period” from 14 December 2021 until 31 March 2022 and be applicable to all passengers aged 12 and over.
Both vaccination and testing proof must come from a source approved by the New Zealand government.
PCR tests can be completed via free community testing centres through a passenger’s GP, however, this must be taken within 72 hours prior to departure.
Should passengers return a positive COVID result or are otherwise unable to provide the necessary proof required before their flight, they can put their fare into flight credit, while Flexi Refund fares can be fully refunded.
The airline said the new policy hopes to add a “new layer of assurance” for customers travelling throughout the country over the busy Christmas and summer holiday periods.
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran welcomes the change as a means of reducing the spread of COVID, as Kiwis reconnect with friends and whānau (family).
“Delta has really upped the stakes. What once kept us safe is no longer enough and we need an extra layer of protection. That’s why we’re taking a step further to keep our customers safe, while allowing all Kiwis to fly,” Foran said.
“For the most seamless experience, we’re encouraging customers to download our Air New Zealand mobile app to make it easy as possible to connect their vaccination status in the government’s My Vaccine Pass with booking details, which will allow check-in.”
The airline says they received “overwhelming feedback” from employees and customers alike to introduce additional health protections for post-pandemic travel.
“We’re making this change so we can all travel our beautiful country over summer and fly with a peace of mind that everyone onboard is seated shoulder-to-shoulder against COVID,” Foran said.
“We’re doing it to protect vulnerable communities, for those with weakened immune systems or who can’t get vaccinated, for the elderly in our rest homes and our wee tamariki at home.
“Customers will be flying this summer for a number of reasons, and it’s our role to get them there. We don’t want to leave anyone behind, which is why we’re giving customers the choice to either be fully vaccinated or present a negative test.”
Last week, Air New Zealand welcomed its latest short-haul Airbus A320neo aircraft to its fleet as the airline prepares for international travel to kickstart again.
The narrowbody touched down at Auckland Airport late Wednesday night and is the first of two joining its fleet, the second is slated to arrive next week.
“It’s welcome news, particularly in the context of the challenges that COVID has brought upon our business,” said Air New Zealand chief pilot Captain David Morgan.
“It won’t be sitting on the tarmac for long, before it’s jetting out of Auckland across the Tasman and into the Pacific Islands,” Morgan added.
“We’re starting to gear up now so it’s a tremendously exciting time for the team at Air New Zealand.”
After travelling from France through Canada, Los Angeles, Honolulu, the Cook Islands and then landing in Auckland, it is now preparing for service.