In an effort to further prevent the spread of COVID-19, Air New Zealand is making a clear separation between its domestic and international crews. While there was already a split for long-haul flights out of Oceania, the latest change further divides crews, taking into consideration trans-Tasman trips.
Change due to employee concerns
According to New Zealand publication Stuff, the change was due to an airline employee’s concerns that cabin crews operating trans-Tasman flights faced some level of risk as they were more likely to carry transit passengers from countries in Europe and Asia that were hit hard by the coronavirus.
The airline told Stuff that it had created “split groups” for its Airbus A320 crew for its current roster. This effectively creates separate teams for trans-Tasman (between Australia and New Zealand) and New Zealand domestic flights.
Restrictions for international crews
Rules set out by the government forbid international crews from congregating with other aircrew or using hotel pools, gyms, or communal areas during overnight stays “landside.” In fact, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has laid out some strict guidelines for airline cabin crew.
A recent government document with advice to these employees states the following:
“The border is the strongest line of defence in maintaining the gains that have been achieved to date in keeping COVID-19 out of New Zealand…Because of the importance of maintaining international air routes, air crew are mostly exempt from the requirement for isolation or quarantine. However, air crew living in New Zealand and returning from high-risk layovers are required to self-isolate, have a COVID-19 test on day 2 after their arrival in New Zealand and continue to self-isolate until the results of that test have been returned.”
Vigilance is the key
The news of Air New Zealand’s decision to split trans-Tasman crews from domestic comes after the country’s Health Minister resigned after security slip-ups at quarantine facilities. There was a brief moment where New Zealand had declared itself free of the virus. However, one particular incident involving two women from Britain leaving quarantine early raised the alarm and reminded the country of the delicate situation it finds itself in.
There has been a very slight uptick in cases in the past week, with as many as two to four new cases emerging on several days. As many government officials around the world have warned, there is a strong need to remain vigilant, or else the sacrifices and gains made in battling the virus over recent weeks could all be lost rapidly.
What do you think of this policy? Should more airlines be adopting something similar? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Simple Flying reached out to Air New Zealand with a request for a statement. However, at the time of publication, no response was received.