Airlines are responding urgently to the New Zealand Government’s decision to require all passengers arriving from overseas, apart from the Pacific Islands, to self-isolate for 14 days.
The border also remains closed to anyone who has been in Mainland China and Iran apart from New Zealanders, who must self-isolate.
Justin Tighe-Umbers, executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ), says its 28 airline members are scrambling to meet the new travel conditions when they start at midnight on Sunday.
“Airlines are expecting a flurry of cancellations from passengers and expect to consolidate flights as passenger numbers reduce,” Mr Tighe-Umbers says. “We are asking all passengers to please be patient while airlines manage the enormous logistics around the new situation.
“Airlines know they have a duty of care to get passengers home. They are used to major disruptive events, but the crisis around COVID-19 is unprecedented. This evolving situation will require patience from everyone. “
Airline crew are exempt from the 14-day rule but are required to be isolated to their accommodation while waiting to operate their return flights out of the country.
Meanwhile BARNZ is grateful that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has acknowledged the severe effect the new restrictions on travel will have on the aviation sector.
“BARNZ has already been working with the Government on the impact to airlines and has been calling for financial assistance as soon as possible.
“It will be vital for the recovery of the tourism industry to ensure airline links are both maintain and restored as soon as the threat of COVID-19 is dissipated.”