Air New Zealand: Back to 20% operations as NZ goes to ‘Level 2’ COVID-19 Alert
New Zealand went early and hard on prevention strategies for the pandemic. The effects on Air NZ were dramatic.
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The NZ Government instituted a 4 level system of alerts and went to the highest – level 4 = lockdown – restrictions on 25 March. That level was harsh, severely limiting travel and with not even takeaway meals allowed. A month later on 27 April, it moved to Level 3, which are similar to the restrictions in Australia up until last week (Friday 8 May), with takeaway allowed.
The results have been good with less than 1,500 cases reported, and only 21 deaths.
Jacinda Ardern, the NZ Prime Minister has, as a result, announced a move to Level 2 restrictions starting this week. Some businesses including retail, shopping malls, cafes, restaurants cinemas, playgrounds and gyms can open as of today (14 May), and kids can go back to school on Monday 18 May. Bars will even be allowed to open as of Wednesday 21 May as long as they obey the ‘three S’s’ – ‘Seated, Separated and single Server’.
Government rescue package
Air New Zealand has received an NZ$900 million (AU$837 million) rescue package in the form of a loan from the NZ Government. To get that, the airline had to agree to drop its interim dividend and any other dividends during the life of the loan. The terms of the deal mean that the airline has to pay back the loan after 6 months, or it becomes government equity in the airline.
The loan will attract interest starting at 7% for the first NZ$300 tranche, and escalating to 9% for the third tranche.
That should encourage repayment.
Air NZ Pandemic safety on the ground and in the air
The airline intends to re-instate domestic flights to about 20% of pre-pandemic levels. But to do that safely for passengers and staff it is making a few changes. These include:
- On-line check-in encouraged via the Air NZ app
- Check-in booths – only every second self-service kiosk will work to assist with social distancing
- Floor markers for queuing at check-in counters and service desks, bag drips and departure gates
- Onboard seat allocations with empty seats between customers travelling alone
- Food and Beverage – no service until 25 May
- Kia Ora – inflight magazine – unavailable
- No in flight lollies
- High touch surfaces cleaned regularly, hand sanitiser available widely
- No self-service buffet in lounges – which will open on 25 May – only packaged snacks
Arrive at airport early
It’s going to take a bit of time to bed these new proceedures down, and they are intrinsically more time consuming, so Air NZ is asking customers to arrive at the airport a bit earlier than usual.
“Finally, it would be appreciated if customers could exercise a bit of patience as everyone gets used to this new way of travelling. We’d also advise allowing a little more time to navigate through the airport process and be mindful of social distancing requirements. Customers should not travel if they are unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms – flights can be changed free of charge if needed.”Nikki Goodman, Air New Zealand General Manager Customer Experience
I know those Kiwi’s have funny accents, but on the whole, they tend to do things right. This is a sensible response to the pandemic, with the reduction of restrictions in a country that relies on air travel for its regional centric population.
I just hope that they will join us in a trans-Tasman air transport bubble soon, so that I can get on a plane, and use my passport. I promise, I will never appreciate your stunning landscape more.
Get me out of here! Sorry, just isolation panic.