6 Mar 2022

Interislander resumes sailing after Covid-19 halt to service

7:55 pm on 6 March 2022

The Interislander passenger ferry will sail tonight after earlier trips were cancelled due to 55 staff contracting covid-19 or isolating.

The Kaitaki in the Marlborough Sounds.

Omicron infections among staff mean the Kaitaki will sail without passengers today. Photo: Supplied / KiwiRail

Without enough specialist staff to crew them, two sailings today were called off.

KiwiRail, which runs the Interislander, said this evening the Wellington to Picton ferry leaving about now and the 12.40am trip in the opposite direction would both be going ahead.

About 55 Interisland ferry staff have COVID-19 or are isolating as close contacts, forcing the cancellation of today's Cook Strait crossings.

About 900 passengers were booked to travel between Picton and Wellington, but two sailings were cancelled because there were not enough specialist staff to crew them.

Safety and marine regulations mean passenger ships must have a minimum number of specialised staff, an Interislander statement said.

Passenger services were cancelled today, but the ferries would still able to sail carrying freight.

The company had been reorganising crew rosters between ships to keep services operating, but even then wasn't able to meet the crew requirements for the Kaitaki because of the number of staff off sick.

"Given uncertainties of when staff will be cleared to work again and the possibility of further positive Covid-19 test results in our team, we are unable to rebook [passengers] onto another sailing in the near future," the company said.

Anyone booked on sailings in the next few weeks who was reconsidering travelling because of the Omicron outbreak would be given a refund, they said.

The company requires all passengers to show proof they're fully vaccinated, or a negative Covid-19 test from within 72 hours of their trip.

A Bluebridge spokeswoman said while some if their staff also have the virus the company hasn't had to cancel any sailings.

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