8 May 2020

Covid-19: Air New Zealand to resume flights to most domestic airports in alert level 2

6:25 pm on 8 May 2020

Air New Zealand will return to flying to the majority of domestic airports when New Zealand enters alert level 2.

An Air New Zealand plane at Wellington Airport as fog causes delays and cancellations.

An Air New Zealand plane at Wellington Airport. Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

But it has warned it will not be able to offer its lowest fares because of having to carry fewer passengers due to social distancing rules.

It will only be able to sell around half the seats on a turboprop aircraft.

The airline has revealed that it will be operating just 20 percent of its usual domestic capacity compared to before Covid-19 caused lockdowns and economic disruption.

It will return to flying to towns and cities including Queenstown, Invercargill, Blenheim, Rotorua, Gisborne, Palmerston Norh, New Plymouth, Hamilton, Whangārei and Kerikeri.

"This comes on top of current flights to support essential service travel between Auckland and Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Napier, as well as between Wellington-Christchurch, Wellington-Nelson and Christchurch-Dunedin," chief executive Greg Foran said.

The airline would have to grapple with fewer flights than before the pandemic, Foran said.

"We've been keen to start domestic air services as soon as practicably possible to support New Zealand's economic recovery and connect family, friends and businesses," he said.

"But the ramp up to higher frequencies will be a slow journey and even when we come out of alert level 1, all of our domestic destinations will see fewer flights and reduced frequencies."

He said it was the harsh reality of closed borders, a depressed economy and Kiwis watching what they spend.

The airline could not cover operating costs and offer its lowest fares at the same time until social distancing measures were removed, he said.

Air New Zealand will also be working with Tourism New Zealand, regional tourism organisations, iwi partners and the likes of the Department of Conservation to encourage domestic tourism.

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