This week, Air New Zealand welcomes more than 170,000 passengers on its network, across 2,589 flights. It is expected to be the airline’s busiest week since pre-COVID, due to a resurgence in domestic tourism.
New Zealand’s World-Leading COVID-19 Response
New Zealand as a destination is hugely appealing to many, with its healthy outdoor activities and stunning scenery. During the pandemic, New Zealand impressed the world with its successful management of COVID-19. The country experienced its peak of cases in April 2020. However, New Zealand was the first nation reported to have eradicated the disease and avoided a second wave of infections.
It’s fair to say, that its isolated geography, low population, early lockdown, and a strong sense of community have all played a part. Life in New Zealand is now relatively back to normal. Social distancing ended on 9 June and there was a short lockdown in Auckland in August.
Compared to other countries, New Zealand’s response to COVID-19 has been a success, thanks to its compliance, communication, and leadership. It’s neighbour Australia has also had similar success with its COVID-19 strategy.
A Resurgence in Domestic Aviation
This year, Air New Zealand’s busiest day will be Christmas Eve, with the airline operating 420 flights. The most popular route being Auckland to Christchurch. Compared to 2019, the airline is operating fewer flights, than when it peaked at 600 flights on its busiest day.
Chloe Surridge, Air New Zealand Group General Manager of Airports said, “Operationally, it takes a lot of work to get our customers to their holiday destinations on busy days like these. All of our teams, from flight planners right through to our airport teams, pilots, and cabin crew, are working hard to connect customers with friends and family this festive season.” Air New Zealand had a challenging and difficult year. However, the holidays – usually when travel demand is at its peak – are here, so the airline has the opportunity to grow and progress.
To cope with the extra capacity during the Christmas period, Air New Zealand has switched many of its smaller A320s with larger A321s. The upgrade of aircraft will add 16,000 extra seats. In the clearest signs of recovery, the airline is recalling 175 cabin crew in preparation for resuming trans-Tasman flights early next year.
The resurgence of domestic aviation in New Zealand will no doubt restore passenger confidence in travel. With the end of 2020 in sight, Air New Zealand offers a glimmer of hope to the industry that normality can return.
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