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Air NZ agree to put temporary hold on new bookings

Bookings for seats on Air New Zealand flights into New Zealand will be managed in the short term to ensure the Government is able to safely place New Zealanders arriving home into a managed isolation or quarantine facility, says Housing Minister Megan Woods.

“Last week, Air Commodore Darryn Webb and I met with Air New Zealand’s Chief Executive Greg Foran to discuss safe and robust ways to jointly manage the big growth in New Zealanders coming home,” says Woods.

“Air New Zealand has agreed to put a temporary hold on new bookings in the short term, as well as looking at aligning daily arrivals with the capacity available at managed isolation facilities.

“People who have already booked flights with Air New Zealand will still be able to enter New Zealand subject to availability of quarantine space.”

Woods says they have seen similar moves in Australia, where passenger numbers into Sydney have been limited following the suspension of flights into Melbourne because of the surge in COVID cases in Victoria.

"They too are having to manage the flow of people into the country to match availability of managed isolation beds.

“We are seeing rapid growth in the numbers of New Zealander coming home as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens.

“Our number one priority is stopping the virus at the border, so everyone must to go into quarantine or managed isolation. The Government is also talking to other airlines about managing flows."

Woods says the last thing NZ needs is hastily set up facilities to meet demand.

"So we must have a manageable number of fit-for-purpose, safe facilities that do the job of stopping COVID at the border."

“We currently have nearly 6000 people in our 28 managed isolation facilities, and are scaling up more spaces all the time, but we need to do so safely and new facilities need to be watertight before they are opened,” says Air Commodore Darryn Webb.

“Standing up new capacity at the required levels for people to stay in for 14 days of isolation is a hugely complex undertaking; it needs appropriate levels of health and other services near by, New Zealand Defence Force personnel and extra security to ensure that people are looked after properly and the risk of COVID getting out into the community is minimised.

“These temporary measures will ease the current demand on facilities while additional supply is brought on line. In the past three weeks we have brought on capacity of ten new facilities for 2000 more people, and have a plan to bring on another 750 places in the coming weeks.

“The pause on new bookings will be short-term, and allows us to increase supply to match forecasted demand over the coming weeks.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and working with Air New Zealand to smooth demand and ensure returnees can be safely housed in managed isolation facilities,” says Webb.

The numbers of those arriving has continued to increase in recent weeks, with 5697 people currently in managed isolation and quarantine.

More than 26,400 people have been through managed isolation and quarantine since March 26.

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@Slim Shady

Posted on 09-07-2020 20:11 | By morepork

It would be silly for us to get into a pantomime "yes it is", "no it isn’t", so I won’t post further on this. I don’t believe that requiring someone to postpone their return is "shutting the door". It would be if they were told they could NEVER return, but as far as I can tell, NO ONE who is a NZ citizen has been denied the right to return. Managing the flow of returning people is just plain common sense. BTW, I have been in the situation you describe (no money, shelter, or food...) in more than one foreign country (including the UK) and was amazed at the kindness of strangers... This experience is life changing even if you wouldn’t actually wish it on someone. Experienced travelers usually have a backup plan because circumstances can upset your "Plan A"... Colonel Jack O’Neill: "When did Plan-A ever work?"

Morepork

Posted on 08-07-2020 14:43 | By

Your first sentence is 100% inaccurate. They have shut the door. On New Zealand citizens. It must contravene international law to shut the door on passport holders, leaving them stranded overseas with no money, shelter or food and possibly in breach of visas, so this terrible regime went to a so called commercial airline and put the squeeze on. Disgusting. Your sympathy for your fellow Kiwis who are dead in the water is noted. It is sensible when the dingy is full to shove those trying to get in with the oar. But the dingy isn’t full is it? It’s just got idiots steering it and a bunch of selfish people in the back.

@Slim Shady

Posted on 08-07-2020 12:37 | By morepork

They are not "shutting the door" on anybody. They are simply managing the rate of flow to protect everyone. If some returns have to be postponed by a couple of weeks, that the chance that people take when they go overseas. Nobody is being abandoned and it is NOT "disgusting" or "selfish". It is just sensible. BTW, you may find that the UK’s generous offer to Hong Kong citizens may also have to be "controlled" and managed to prevent another wave of Covid on top of the serious one being experienced at present.

Every Kiwi for themselves

Posted on 07-07-2020 17:31 | By

This is terrible. Shutting the door on fellow Kiwis. Sailing away from man overboard. Throwing them under the bus. Marines leave no man behind. It’s certainly not Dunkirk spirit. Great Britain has just opened the door to millions of Hong Kong citizens. New Zealand shuts the door on hundreds of thousands fellow Kiwis. Disgusting. Selfish.