Air New Zealand Restarts Domestic Network With Inter-Island 787 Flights

Air New Zealand announced yesterday that it would be using its 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft to transport cargo between Christchurch and Auckland. Three flights a week will help South Island importers and exporters to connect with the rest of the world. As New Zealand eases its COVID-19 alert level, passengers can also book flights between the islands.

Air New Zealand 787-9
Air New Zealand connects South Island cargo exports. Photo: 廷宇 王 via Flickr

Air New Zealand connects South Island exporters

Air New Zealand is launching the Dreamliner cargo services as part of a support agreement with the Ministry of Transport. The flights are in response to significant demand from export and freight forwarding businesses in the South Island.

The Dreamliner will fly from Christchurch to Auckland on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Flights depart at 17:00 NZST, arriving in Auckland at 18:25 from where freight will be forwarded to global destinations. The first flight took place today.

Air New Zealand General Manager of Cargo, Rick Nelson said in a statement,

“Flights are timed so cargo goods are able to connect to our new Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Narita and Shanghai cargo flights, as well as onto our trans-Tasman flights from Auckland.”

The freight flights will provide a same day connection to international services, which is vital for businesses that export perishable, time-sensitive and high-value goods. For South Island exporters to stay viable, they must receive this support as New Zealand’s lockdown eases.

Air New Zealand 777 landing
Air New Zealand domestic flights resume. Photo: Mark Harkin via Flickr

Air New Zealand resumes domestic flights

From today, New Zealand downgraded its COVID-19 restrictions to alert level 2, providing much more freedom for citizens, including domestic travel. On 8th May, Air New Zealand reported that, on entering this phase, it would be increasing its domestic capacity to around 20% of its normal levels.

On Monday, the airline said it would resume seven domestic services initially, with plans to operate from most domestic airports from 18th May.

Air New Zealand, along with Tourism New Zealand, is encouraging New Zealanders to see more of the country as routes open up. Air New Zealand CEO, Greg Foran said,

“We live in the best country on earth and on our doorstep have world-class accommodation, attractions and activities. We’ll be strongly encouraging Kiwis to support our tourism sector, and to visit friends and family.”

Social Distancing at airport
Social distancing at every stage of the journey: Sharon Hahn Darlin via Flickr

Air New Zealand reveals safety measures

As more services take to the skies, Air New Zealand has revealed how it plans to keep its crew and passengers safe. The airline is looking to reassure passengers at every stage of their journey.

Passengers are being encouraged to check-in using the airline’s app. Social distancing measures with floor markers will be operated at check-in desks, service counters, bag drops, and departure areas.

Onboard, lone passengers will be separated by empty seats, although families and people traveling together may be allowed to sit together. Domestic flights will have no food and drink services until 25th May at the earliest.

Extra steps are being taken to ensure that airports, lounges and aircraft are cleansed during the day. Hand sanitizer will be available at multiple points in the airport and on aircraft.

Customer Experience Manager, Nikki Goodman added:

“Finally, it would be appreciated if customers could exercise a bit of patience as everyone gets used to this new way of traveling.”

Do you think the safety measures for air travel go far enough? Leave a comment below.