New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, is in the middle of a three-day lockdown after three locally acquired cases of COVID-19 popped up over the weekend. And that’s had the local airline, Air New Zealand, scrambling to adjust its services and stay in the air.
“While the country is at elevated Alert Levels, Air New Zealand will be taking extra precautions to keep its staff and customers safe,” said a statement from Air New Zealand.
“Air New Zealand front line staff and cabin crew will be wearing masks and gloves and customers are required to continue to wear face coverings onboard.”
Inflight services reduced, some flights canceled
Inflight catering onboard Air New Zealand’s domestic services has temporarily ceased. However, the flight attendants will provide water on request. Air New Zealand’s Auckland lounges and valet parking are closed. Outside Auckland, Air New Zealand’s lounges are staying open, but visitor numbers are capped at 100.
Despite the lockdown, Air New Zealand seems to be managing to keep most of its flights in the air today. Just eleven Air New Zealand flights departing from Auckland are canceled across Monday. That includes flights to Christchurch, Wellington, Kerikeri, Tauranga, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney. Fourteen Air New Zealand flights into Auckland are canceled on Monday. In addition to the aforementioned ports, a flight each from New Plymouth and Napier is also off the books on Monday.
The lockdown in Auckland has had some flow-on effects across the Air New Zealand domestic network. Two services up to Auckland from Wellington are canceled on Monday, and three Air New Zealand flights to Wellington are not running. Christchurch also sees a flight canceled in both directions.
“Customers who hold a ticket for a domestic flight scheduled to depart up until 30 March 2021 and no longer wish to travel can opt-in for credit and can do this via the airline’s online booking tool,” says the Air New Zealand statement.
Australia closes the travel bubble from New Zealand
For the second time in a month, Australia has put the one-way travel bubble from New Zealand on ice in response to the Auckland COVID cases. For 72 hours from midnight on Sunday night, arrivals from New Zealand will not get to skip quarantine. Instead, they’ll be off to quarantine for 14 days.
That’s seen airlines axe flights scheduled to cross the Tasman Sea on Monday. In addition to Air New Zealand canceling services to and from Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney, Qantas has canceled QF143 between Sydney and Auckland on Monday morning. The return service, QF146, is also not running.
Meanwhile, the three-day lockdown signals some changes at Auckland’s airport. Deemed an essential service, the airport is staying open but asks people not traveling to stay away.
“It’s important for us to manage physical distancing within the terminal and unfortunately, this means only allowing those people set to travel that day into the buildings,” said Airport Airport Executive Anna Cassels-Brown.
“If you’re traveling in the next few days, it’s going to be important to plan ahead and have all the essentials you might need for your flight because they might not be available to purchase at the terminal.”
Air New Zealand asks people booked to travel through Auckland to be patient. They say even if you cannot contact the airline before travel and do not plan to fly, don’t panic. The airline will get in contact at a later point and sort out alternative flights or a credit note.