Saturday, December 4

Travel deadline extended by 24 hours with hundreds of people still stranded in Queenstown


The government has extended the time for people to return home on Air New Zealand or Interislander flights by 24 hours.

Queenstown Airport.

Queenstown Airport (file image).
Photo: Queenstown airport

Air New Zealand wanted the government to extend the 48-hour deadline to allow people to return home, saying the tightening point is in Queenstown, where hundreds of people are still waiting to get home.

The government deadline for travel is 11.59pm tonight. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced at her press conference this afternoon that it would be extended by 24 hours for Interislander and Air NZ passengers.

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.

This is an official COVID-19 ALERT.

All New Zealand You are now at Covid-19 Alert Level 4.

The alert level will be reviewed after 3 days for all areas EXCEPT Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, which will likely remain at level 4 for an initial period of 7 days.

A community case of Covid-19 has been identified.

Stay at home whenever possible and follow level 4 alert guidelines. This will stop the spread of COVID-19 and SAVE LIVES.

All are asked to:

Wear a mask and keep a distance of 2 meters from others when you leave your house.

If you are sick, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on getting tested.

Keep scanning QR codes every time you leave your home.

Practice good hygiene: wash your hands often.

Services that include supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics and gas stations will remain open at alert level 4. Face covers are mandatory for all people, both employees and customers, in companies and services that operate at alert level 4 that involve contact with the client.

For more information on Alert Level 4, go to [the government website www.covid19.govt.nz]

***

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