Disruption to air travel could last for up to three days after wild weather saw multiple flights cancelled in and out of Wellington on Thursday and Friday.
Air NZ chief executive Greg Foran told Breakfast thousands of people have been affected by the some 200 flights cancelled across Thursday and Friday and he expects that number to grow.
"It is a challenge when you're dealing now with the best part of 20,000 people who's plans have been disrupted and we've got 120,000 people to move between today tomorrow and Sunday," Foran said.
“The airport is struggling to get up and running due to severe gusts.”
He said the backlog of flights cancelled on Thursday may take up to three days to clear.
Foran says it's been a real "push" across the company in recent weeks, with office staff filling in on the frontline.
"People on the frontline working extremely hard and doing what they need to but it's been a challenging couple of weeks," he said.
But in an update at 8.40am (after Foran's comments) Wellington Airport said the weather is easing and flights are able to operate today.
"However there are flow-on disruptions from yesterday’s cancelled flights which will take the airlines some time to work through."
The airport advises passengers to check directly with their airlines for further information.
A heavy swell warning remains in place for the Wairarapa, after the region and Wellington were battered by wild weather on Thursday.
Climate change experts says the wild weather is the beginning of more severe weather events.
"Some areas are going to become more and more difficult to inhabit so we need to think about a sort of localised managed retreat programmes where we are assisting people to move to safer locations,” Professor Ilan Noy from Victoria University said.