Unvaccinated travellers to be banned from international Air NZ flights

Source: 1News

Unvaccinated people will be banned from flying international on Air New Zealand, the airline's chief executive Greg Foran has announced.

Foran told Q+A's Jack Tame on Sunday morning the decision comes after "overwhelming" feedback from both staff and customers.

The new rules will apply from February 1, next year.

"As I mentioned, the feedback we're getting from staff and customers is pretty overwhelming on this, they want to feel safe when they get on an Air New Zealand plane, either to leave or to come back into the country," Foran said.

"And the other thing which I think is really important is that increasingly we are seeing other countries close their doors unless you are vaccinated so, you know, if you want to get into Rarotonga or get into Fiji or get into the United States you're going to need to be vaccinated so this makes a lot of sense."

Foran said about 75 per cent of Air NZ's staff will end up being vaccinated.

"We think that's really important because vaccination is critical and that's the feedback we're getting."

However, he added there was still work to be done for how the new rules will logistically work.

"In terms of customers, we're got some operational things still to work through, you know, staying close to the Government in terms of their travel health declaration and the digital solution.

"So over the next four months, and that's the time we've got in front of us, we'll work this procedure up so that it's as seamless as possible for customers, either when they leave or when they come back."

Foran said allowances would also be worked in for people who can't get the vaccine for medical reasons, for example, as well as those too young to get vaccinated.

Air New Zealand plane (file picture).

"We'll be sensible as we work through these procedures," he said.

As for domestic travel? Foran said: "Let's see what happens.

"I am very conscious there are a number of locations where Air New Zealand is the only available airline to travel to or from within New Zealand so we need to be cognisant of that and just think this one through carefully.

"I can tell you, Jack, I am very keen to get this business back flying, not just domestically but internationally and we've been working hard over the last 600 plus days while we've been dealing with Covid to make this a reality.

"So I'd expect by this time next year nearly all of our international routes will be operating - now whether they're operating at 100 per cent I think fundamentally that will be determined by the degree of MIQ that's required, but I can tell you one thing, there is no doubt in my mind that customers do want to get back overseas and travel, and I'm seeing that right around the world.

"People do want to travel, they do need to be vaccinated, you're gonna need to be vaccinated to get into many countries, but I am optimistic about where the business is going to go and we're planned and ready to do that."