Auckland Airport CEO wants vaccinated Kiwis stranded offshore home

Source: 1News

Outgoing Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood is calling on the Government to allow vaccinated Kiwis who are stranded offshore to come home for Christmas.

The arrivals area at Auckland Airport.

After nearly nine years on the job, Littlewood is stepping down from his role this week.

He said there was no logic anymore in forcing fully vaccinated Kiwis who had undergone pre-departure testing to stay in MIQ.

Littlewood felt these Kiwis should be able to return and isolate at home from mid-December.

He wanted the Government to make a decision now so the aviation industry would be able to prepare.

"The Government has stated that vaccinations are our ticket to an unrestricted summer holiday, yet fully vaccinated and tested Kiwis remain stuck offshore, kept apart from family and friends over Christmas," Littlewood said.

"The time has come for the grief and inequity caused by these restrictions to end, allowing Kiwis to return, reunite with their families and isolate at home if they are fully vaccinated with pre-departure testing. The Government needs to make this a priority now."

He felt New Zealand was lagging behind the rest of the developed world with such restrictions.

Littlewood said people in Australia, Canada, the US and UK were travelling more freely and wanted Kiwis to do the same.

The outgoing chief executive also wanted the Government to say when the border will reopen early next year.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in August the border would open from early 2022 with a risk-based approach in place.

Vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries will not have to isolate, while unvaccinated travellers and travellers from high risk countries will have to spend 14 days in MIQ.

The new border system would also involve pre-departure tests.

"You can’t just flick a switch and turn back on an international air network. Our airline contacts have told us that recommissioning a plane and preparing its supporting crew from hibernation could take three months," Littlewood said.

"Airlines lock in their flight schedules a long way in advance and planning for late 2022 and early 2023 is happening now right across the industry."

Littlewood's calls are similar to that of the National Party, which is calling for an end to MIQ.

Its petition has received about 80,000 signatures to date.

National has envisaged travellers from countries deemed low-risk would not have to isolate at all.

They would have to be double vaccinated and test negative before and after arrival.

Those from countries deemed to be a higher risk would have to isolate at home for a week.