Air New Zealand will resume all of its Auckland domestic routes, but with fewer seats due to physical distancing measures when the region moves to Alert Level 2 on Monday.

The airline has been operating a reduced domestic schedule in and out of Auckland while it has been under Alert Level 3. Alert Level 2, the second highest level in New Zealand’s four-tier alert system, indicates that the disease has been contained, but the risk of community transmission remains.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran says while “there will be more flights” to and from Auckland, there will be fewer seats available for customers as physical distancing will be in place across the airline’s domestic network.

“Physical distancing means we can only sell just under 50 per cent of seats on a turboprop aircraft and just 65 per cent on an A320 which also means we won’t be able to offer our lowest lead in fares until physical distancing measures are removed,” said Foran.

“This has put huge pressure on our business as it means we need to move some of our customers to other flights,” he added.

The carrier notes that most of the rest of its domestic network has remained unchanged but with physical distancing in place on planes.

From Monday, it will also be mandatory for customers to wear a face covering while on board. The airline says customers are encouraged to bring their own, or a mask will be provided by the airline prior to boarding.

“All Air New Zealand domestic cabin crew and front of house employees will be wearing masks and gloves, and pilots will wear masks when interacting with customers or moving through airport terminals,” said Foran.

The airline has extended fare flexibility through until 11:59pm (local time) Sunday September 6. Customers who hold a ticket booked directly with Air New Zealand for a domestic flight up until this date can opt to hold their fare in credit and can do this via the airline’s online booking tool, while customers who have booked via a travel agent should speak with their agent to cancel their booking, says the carrier.

Air New Zealand says on its website that it currently has the following safety measures in place:

  • Customers are encouraged to check in for their flight via the Air New Zealand app, and allow extra time to process through check-in and security
  • For those checking in at larger airports, every second self-service kiosk will be operating to support physical distancing. There will also be floor markers for queuing at check-in counters, service desks, bag drops and departure gates, and fewer customers will be boarded and disembarked at a time
  • Inflight, seating will be allocated to allow an empty seat between customers travelling alone. The airline says it will aim to keep families and some travelling companions together, so there may be some people sitting together with no additional space between them
  • Food and beverage services on all domestic flights will not be available to minimise contact between customers and cabin crew. Customers should let cabin crew know if they would like a cup of water
  • Jet aircraft cabins have hospital operating theatre-grade HEPA filters installed, which filter out viruses, according to the airline.

Air New Zealand’s Auckland lounges and valet parking will reopen from Monday  August 31. Masks will be available for customers at all lounges. Due to capacity restrictions under Alert Level 2 the maximum number of people able to access any of the airline’s lounges is capped at 100, said the airline.

“Air New Zealand will continue to review its domestic network going forward based on demand and physical distancing requirements,” reads a statement from the carrier.