The Consumer Affairs Minister has asked Air New Zealand customers to show sympathy for the airline as it grapples with people demanding refunds for flights cancelled because of the pandemic.
The national carrier has given back money for some international flights where overseas law requires it, but has refused to refund other tickets and has offered credits instead.
Air New Zealand yesterday offered an apology over lack of access to its credits, but said it could not afford to refund customers without dipping into its $900m government loan.
Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi last night met with Consumer NZ, which has repeatedly urged the airline to refund customers.
Consumer NZ indicated it was still being "deluged" with complaints from customers, Faafoi said.
He said Air New Zealand needed to improve how it contacted customers who were seeking refunds, but the airline was dealing with an "extremely high number" of customers who wanted their money back.
"A little bit of sympathy there for them about the number of people they are having to deal with.
"They are in an interesting financial position themselves. I think, at the end of the day, that's a decision for Air New Zealand to make but they're in a difficult position like most other businesses at the moment,"he said.
"They've got a hell of a lot of customers in that situation and dealing with them individually ... is going to take some time to work through."
Faafoi indicated the government was considering including the problem in its current review of the Civil Aviation Authority, to see if regulatory change was needed.