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Air New Zealand: USA flights now via Hawaii to keep flight crew safe. Lessons here for Qantas?

Air New Zealand: USA flights now via Hawaii to keep flight crew safe. Lessons here for Qantas?

Air New Zealand has decided to mitigate the risk of transmitting COVID-19 back into NZ via aircrew by overnighting them in Honolulu.

It’s doing this by re-routing its North America flights to allow aircrew to overnight in Honolulu rather than Los Angeles or San Francisco. A separate crew will staff the flight between Honolulu and the USA mainland.

This new ‘stopover’ will commence on Monday 11 January for cargo flights between New Zealand and the USA. Passenger services will be re-routed via Honolulu from 2 February.

If you catch a flight from New Zealand, you will make a brief stop in Honolulu to change crew and then continue on to Los Angeles or San Francisco. You probably won’t be getting off the aircraft. Aircrew operating the USA leg will remain airside and operate the return flight to Honolulu with another crew change for the leg back to New Zealand.

Hawaii is considered a low risk environment for COVID-19 compared to California on mainland USA.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has helped us to move so quickly in re-routing our flights, from officials in New Zealand and the United States, to our ground partners and our teams who have worked through the holiday break to make this happen.”

Greg Foran, Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer

Air NZ has worked with unions and the NZ Ministry for Health to develop protocols that will protect their staff, and in turn, the people of New Zealand.

Through this re-routing, Air NZ can maintaining its 12 cargo and 2 passenger and cargo services per week between New Zealand and California.

2PAXfly Takeout

The aviation industry has a difficult road ahead when it comes to sustainability. It’s going to require a relative revolution in technology, with ‘electric planes’ or hydrogen planes, or some form of jet engine that doesn’t require a carbon based fuel. And that is going to require the development of an alternative to jet engines probably.

It’s a big ask. It will take time to develop.

This move to home grown and manufactured SAF is a first step – maybe even a baby step in a very long road of innovation. In the long run, US$200 million won’t even touch the sides.

Remember, you won’t be able to offload cargo or passengers in Honolulu. This change, which does not increase the scheduled flight time for the route, is only for the protection of Air NZ staff, and not for the convenience of passengers or freight carriers.

Maybe there are lessons here for Australian carrier Qantas when it re-commences international flights. Crew change in Perth on the way to Heathrow? Same layover in Honolulu for USA east coast flights to and from Australia?

Worth exploring Mr Joyce?

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