A320neo joins Air New Zealand fleet; Airline requiring vaccines/tests on domestic flights

Air New Zealand NHF Rarotonga 1
(PHOTO: Air New Zealand)

CFM-WaveAir New Zealand is welcoming the latest addition to its fleet – a new Airbus A320neo that has made the 21,000km journey from Toulouse, France. “Our new A320 is a welcome sign of international travel being just on the horizon,” sais Air New Zealand’s Chief Pilot Captain David Morgan.

The new short-haul aircraft travelled from France via Canada, Los Angeles, Honolulu and the Cook Islands before touching down at Auckland Airport. It’s the first of two new A320neo aircraft to join the Air New Zealand fleet this month, with the second plane expected to arrive this week. The aircraft, which can seat up to 165 passengers, is also the first A320neo to join our fleet since the end of 2019.

“It’s welcome news, particularly in the context of the challenges that Covid has brought upon our business,” said Morgan. “It won’t be sitting on the tarmac for long, before it’s jetting out of Auckland across the Tasman and into the Pacific Islands. We’re starting to gear up now so it’s a tremendously exciting time for the team at Air New Zealand.”

Morgan says the new A320neos are powered by an engine that is exceptionally quiet for passengers and crew onboard. They also feature Wi-Fi to help people stay connected and inflight entertainment so customers can enjoy world-class movies, TV shows, music and more during flights. The aircraft also uses significantly less fuel compared to older technology aircraft. The new plane is now going through a process to get it ready for service in the coming days.

ANZ gears up for quarantine-free travel with Cook Islands
Air New Zealand is welcoming news that it can help connect Kiwis to Cook Island neighbours quarantine-free from early next year. The Cook Islands government has announced quarantine-free travel will resume between New Zealand and the Cook Islands for travel from 14 January 2022.

Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says the airline is excited to help get New Zealanders to Rarotonga for some tropical sunshine and a holiday from early next year. “We’re really looking forward to resuming our daily flight schedule to get our customers to and from Rarotonga very soon. This is another exciting step towards more international travel and we can’t wait to reconnect with our island neighbours.”

To be able to travel to and from the Cook Islands quarantine-free, the Cook Islands Government requires visitors to be fully vaccinated or provide a certified medical exemption, and test negative before departure. Customers are advised to check all the new entry and eligibility requirements for Cook Islands travel, which can be found at Air New Zealand Travel Alerts & Flight information Updates. Due to the continuation of the quarantine free travel pause, the airline is in the process of contacting customers booked to travel to Rarotonga between now and 13 January with their options for travel. “We know that this will be very disappointing for our customers who were booked to travel over the Christmas and New Years period, but it is unsurprising given the current COVID-19 community cases in New Zealand. Health and safety are paramount, and we want to do everything we can to ensure customers, staff and our island neighbours are kept safe.”

In other positive news, from today, New Zealand citizens, residents or holders of a Critical Purpose Visa from Tonga and Samoa will also be able to come into the country without having to quarantine. Air New Zealand will operate one flight per week from both Samoa and Tonga to Auckland, with the first quarantine-free flight departing Tonga tomorrow and Samoa from 13 November 2021.

ANZ requiring vaccination proof or negative COVID test
Air New Zealand said it will from mid-December ask all customers to present proof of either full vaccination or a negative COVID test before checking in to their domestic flights. Air New Zealand Chief Executive Greg Foran says the change is about reducing the spread of COVID-19, ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer. “Delta has really upped the stakes. What once kept us safe is no longer enough and we need an extra layer of protection. That’s why we’re taking a step further to keep our customers safe, while allowing all Kiwis to fly,” Foran said.

The airline is aiming to have the change in place by 14 December 2021 for an initial period until 31 March 2022. It will apply to all passengers aged 12 or older travelling on an Air New Zealand aircraft within New Zealand. All vaccines and tests approved by the New Zealand government will be accepted. “For the most seamless experience, we’re encouraging customers to download our Air New Zealand mobile app to make it easy as possible to connect their vaccination status in the government’s My Vaccine Pass with booking details, which will allow check-in,” Foran said.

Those not fully vaccinated will be able to provide evidence of a negative covid test taken within 72 hours before departure – from either free community testing or their GP. The change follows overwhelming feedback from customers and employees calling for more protection during travel.

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