10 Feb 2023

Air NZ may fly planes to safety before Cyclone Gabrielle hits - Foran

From Checkpoint, 5:24 pm on 10 February 2023

Air New Zealand  is tracking Cyclone Gabrielle very closely and wants to give customers advance warning, says chief executive Greg Foran.

Air New Zealand passengers are being urged to delay non urgent travel on routes that could be disrupted by the incoming cyclone.

Passengers booked to travel to or from Auckland, Whangārei, Kerikeri, Tauranga, Hamilton and New Plymouth between Sunday 12 and Friday 17 February should consider using the airline's flexibility policy.

"We'll just see how these evolves over the next 24, 48 hours but we need to be prepared," Foran said.

"None of us are sure exactly how this will play out but we need to get prepared, we need to get prepared not just for our customers but also for out staff and also for our aeroplanes."

A photo taken on August 9, 2021 shows an Air New Zealand plane taking off from Auckland Airport with the national carrier managing to cut its losses by a third in the last financial year

Photo: AFP

This included booking accommodation and ensuring there were rooms available for staff and customers, he said.

The airline needed to think about the damage planes on the tarmac could face in high winds, he said.

"When you start to get 50,60,70 knot winds and they're coming in and hitting turbo prop planes it's very difficult to keep those tied down so if we need to move some of those planes then that's exactly what we need to do."

The planes would go to ports that wouldn't be impacted by the bad weather, he said.

Air NZ leaders were currently meeting twice a day, sometimes more, to make decisions across operations, he said.

"The good news is unlike what we faced a couple of weeks ago, we've got time to prepare for it and that's what we're trying to do now, is get everything in place."

Foran said ultimately, the pilot makes a decision whether or not it was safe to fly. This was something that happened even in normal times.

"The pilot is in command, the captain, and they make the calls."