Starting today, Emirates has frozen bookings for inbound international flights into New Zealand. The move comes after the New Zealand government’s directive to restrict capacity into the country – amid swamped quarantine facilities.
Emirates, which resumed flights to Auckland at the beginning of July, will stop taking bookings temporarily. The suspension will last three weeks. A spokesperson for the airline told Simple Flying,
“Existing bookings during this period will remain unaffected.
“The safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority, and we are working with the relevant authorities to minimize disruption.”
Thus, new workers in the state, students, or tourists who have not booked a flight cannot enter New Zealand for the time being.
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Quarantine facilities overwhelmed
New Zealand citizens returning from Australia now occupy most quarantine facilities in the country. At the current rate of New Zealanders coming home, Newsroom states that 92 people will be left without a room by Sunday. The facilities are in place for incoming travelers to complete the 14-day compulsory quarantine period to ensure they are COVID-19 free.
Housing Minister Megan Woods has explained that the government is trying to increase the number of rooms and facilities available. However, according to her,
“…not every hotel room complied with health guidelines around en-suite bathrooms and the ability to keep those in quarantine safe, exercised, fed and unable to leave easily.”
About 2,000 spaces have been added over the past week, with another 750 planned for the upcoming weeks. This number might just be enough to accommodate everyone. The government is also looking at alternative venues such as cruise ships, to house more people.
Woods ensures that at the moment any New Zealander who has already booked a flight will be let in. But, there will be no more bookings allowed for the next three weeks. Unfortunately, if more citizens currently residing in Australia have lost employment due to the pandemic, the backlog could take months to clear.
Other airlines affected
Undoubtedly, flag carrier Air New Zealand was the first airline to stop inbound bookings. Yesterday, the airline announced it is working with the government to ensure the country does not reach maximum capacity.
According to an official statement seen by Simple Flying, Air NZ is “looking at aligning daily arrivals with the capacity available at managed isolation facilities.” As a result, some passengers may have flights transferred.
Chief Commercial and Customer Officer Cam Wallace of Air NZ also says the airline has been “working closely with the government to understand how it can support the government’s efforts to contain COVID-19 at the border.”
Singapore Airlines is another carrier in talks with the New Zealand government to freeze bookings for the foreseeable future. Stuff New Zealand reports that China Southern is also affected by the suspension. The airline flies from Guangzhou to Auckland, but will no longer take bookings to adhere to the government directive.
Emirates continues to expand route network
Meanwhile, the Dubai-based carrier has resumed flights to multiple cities. Destinations include Cairo, Male, Tunis, and Glasgow. A statement dated June 29th reveals that Emirates is now flying to a total of 52 cities.
However, between Auckland’s temporary suspension, and Emirates dropping Adelaide as a destination according to Executive Traveller, the number is down to 50.
During pre-coronavirus times, the airline served 161 destinations. However, the expanding route network shows that the demand for flying is picking up quickly. This is further exemplified by Dubai reopening its borders to tourists yesterday, July 7th.
What do you think of New Zealand’s move to temporarily suspend flights into the state? Are you a New Zealander overseas looking to return home? Let us know in the comments.