Air New Zealand will not be stopping in Hawaii on its way to and from North America, the airline confirmed Wednesday. The ‘technical stop’ meant to protect the carrier’s crew from catching COVID-19 in California encountered blocks in the final stages of approval.
Not granted permission to land for tech-stop
At the beginning of January, Air New Zealand announced that its flights from Auckland to North America would be stopping in Honolulu. Instead of dropping off and picking up passengers, fuel, or cargo, the airline would land to let its crew rest there rather than in Los Angeles or San Francisco.
The Kiwi flag carrier said in a statement at the time that this was to reduce the risk of its crew members contracting COVID-19 on a layover on the US mainland. Air New Zealand intended to begin the new rotation on January 11th for cargo-only flights and February 2nd for passenger services. However, it has now had to scrap those plans.
No details are yet available as to the exact reason. Still, Air New Zealand’s chief operating officer Carrie Hurihanganui, according to Stuff, said that the plans had “encountered blocks” in the final stages of approval. This meant that the airline would not be allowed to complete the “technical stop” for which it had sought permission.
Simple Flying has sought Air New Zealand for a comment but was yet to receive a response at the time of publication.
Crew separate from passengers at LAX
Meanwhile, a new risk assessment of the conditions in California had come to the conclusion that the protective measures in place for crew were now deemed sufficient. More than regulations around PPE, accommodation, testing, and transport, crew is now processed in a separate facility from passengers at LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Air New Zealand currently operates eight cargo-only and two passenger and cargo flights per week from New Zealand to Los Angeles. It also flies four cargo-only routes to San Fransisco and one cargo-only from Australia to North America. All in all, this means 15 transpacific services a week.
The scheme would have been to have all flights change crew at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on each leg. One crew would have operated Auckland to Honolulu. A second crew would then take over from Honolulu to California and remain onboard for the return to Honolulu. Another crew would then have taken over to New Zealand.
Other stopovers and measures for crew
Other airlines have rerouted flights with stopovers to facilitate mandatory crew rest or taken measures to ensure cabin crew does not bring the virus back with them on the return flight.
Singapore Airlines has asked that crew wear tracking devices while on layovers to make sure they stay in their hotel rooms. In December, American Airlines and United scrapped nonstop plans to Shanghai due to concerns over crew testing requirements, continuing to operate instead via Seoul Incheon in South Korea.