Air New Zealand wants the government’s 48-hour deadline to allow people to return home to be extended until tomorrow night, saying the tightening point is in Queenstown, where hundreds of people are still waiting to get home.
The government’s deadline for travel expires at 11:59 p.m. tonight.
Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said that when the shutdown occurred Tuesday night, Air New Zealand had about 50,000 passengers to carry.
“Now, of course, some of those passengers have decided not to fly, we call them ‘no-shows’ and the reality is that we transferred many thousands yesterday, we have 15,000 to transfer today and it would be fair to say a lot of that is that people return from the South Island to the North Island, particularly Auckland, and Queenstown is probably the turning point right now. “
Foran believes there are still around 600 people looking to fly home from Queenstown, though he said it can be difficult to give an exact number because people sometimes change their plans without informing the airline.
“We are having some discussions with the government to see whether or not it will be possible to fly some of those people back tomorrow, ideally they would just be essential workers, but we are pretty sure that there are still a few hundred people in Queenstown who are eager to to go back, but we are waiting for Wellington to make some decisions on whether that will be possible. “
Foran said today that they have made three additional flights and upgraded aircraft from A320 to A321 carrying more passengers.
He said Air New Zealand received as much notice of the closure as the general public.
“Obviously we have to organize them all and organize the crew, and we get as much notification of this as anyone else, so the team has done a very good job of getting everything done that we can.”
Foran said some people chose to go to Invercargill or Christchurch and then leave, so both cities are also busy.
He said that apart from Queenstown, most New Zealanders seem to have gotten where they need to go.
Foran said 4,000-5,000 people were scheduled to return from Queenstown between Wednesday morning or Tuesday night and Sunday.
“So what you’re doing is organizing a bunch of trips that people would generally have spread out between a week and 48 hours.”
Crew member who tested positive for Covid-19
Yesterday it was announced that a woman in her 60s who is a member of Air New Zealand’s cabin crew has tested positive for Covid-19, but has no known ties to the existing group.
Foran said the woman was fully vaccinated and had just returned from Narita (in Japan) and that her case was picked up as part of the normal testing process.
“They were what was called our red flights, so the staff is fully vaccinated, she had been vaccinated, she had received both doses and she has not been anywhere else. [in recent times]. “
Foran said Air New Zealand has ensured that all other crew members who were on that flight are being screened.
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