Air New Zealand has announced it will continue to operate a handful of international routes from March 28 through the end of June as the country’s borders remain largely shut.

The Star Alliance carrier said its skeleton network will mainly facilitate essential travel and cargo to and from Auckland.

Rarotonga is a notable exception, with Air New Zealand planning to operate daily flights following a new travel bubble between the Cook Islands and New Zealand.

Pacific Islands:

  • Nadi: weekly 
  • Niue: weekly
  • Rarotonga: daily
  • Samoa: weekly
  • Tonga: weekly
  • Norfolk Island: three times weekly from Sydney
  • Norfolk Island: three times weekly from Brisbane


  • Los Angeles: twice weekly
  • Hong Kong: twice weekly
  • Shanghai: twice weekly
  • Tokyo: twice weekly
  • Seoul: monthly

Air New Zealand also noted that some routes continue to operate to fulfill “use it or lose it” slot rules at airports. Airline industry groups have called for the regulations to be eased given that international traffic is only expected to reach a quarter of 2019 levels by next summer.

Scott Carr, general manager networks at Air New Zealand, commented:

“Our schedule is driven by a number of factors including airport takeoff and landing slots which generally operate on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis. This means if you don’t fly the majority of your schedule you may lose access to airports. 

“We have been waiting to receive slot alleviation for the April to end of June period, which means our regular slot times are protected even if we can’t fly them all. As this is now progressing, we are now able to move ahead with adapting our schedule through to June 30 to better reflect the low demand environment we are currently operating in.”

The airline added that there is no change to its trans-Tasman flight schedule to Australia at this time. Earlier, the two countries agreed to launch a two-way travel bubble during the first quarter of 2021.