• Joe Breitfeller

Air New Zealand Launches One Way Service From Rarotonga to NZ; Carrier Recaps Very Unusual Year

Air New Zealand will offer two weekly flights from Rarotonga on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the route will be operated with an Airbus A320. In a separate announcement, the airline recapped the last very unusual year.


Air New Zealand Airbus A321neo - Courtesy Airbus

On Thursday (January 14, 2021), Air New Zealand announced that after the recent announcement of a one-way quarantine-free travel between Rarotonga and new Zealand, the carrier will launch twice-weekly service from Rarotonga. The weekly flights will depart Rarotonga on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the route will be serviced with an Airbus A320. Health checks for quarantine-free travel from the Cook islands to New Zealand will occur at both Rarotonga International Airport and Auckland Airport upon arrival. Customers will be required to wear masks onboard and will enter a designated area at Auckland Airport, separated from passengers arriving on quarantine flights. In Thursday’s route announcement, Air New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer, Greg Foran, said,


“This is fantastic news for both Cook Islanders and New Zealanders. We know many Cook Islanders will be eager to connect with friends and family in New Zealand, and we look forward to seeing what a two-way quarantine-free travel arrangement will look like. Of course, safety is our first priority for our customers and staff. We’ve been working closely with both governments, relevant agencies and airports on what is required to keep our customers and staff safe once travel opens up.”


In a separate announcement yesterday, Air New Zealand reflected on 2020, a most extraordinary year for the carrier and the entire airline industry. Starting with New Zealand’s Level 4 lockdown, 67 of the airline’s aircraft were grounded and by the end of 2020, the carrier’s 15 strong fleet of Boeing 777s were sent to long term storage facilities in Auckland, Roswell and Victorville, California. Following the Government’s announcement on March 14, 2020, that everyone entering New Zealand, except from the Pacific, would be required to self-isolate for 14 days, the company’s call center recorded its busiest day, handling 75,000 calls, compared to 9,900 calls on the busiest day in 2019.


After global borders began to close, the airline worked tirelessly to repatriate nearly 60,000 Kiwis who had started international journeys prior to the Level 4 lockdown. Air New Zealand operated 29 special flights to bring Kiwis home from Wuhan, Mumbai and Delhi and to repatriate foreign nationals to Germany, the Netherlands, Korea, Samoa and Tonga. As a result of the global pandemic, the carrier’s number of international flights dropped from over 30,000 in 2019 to less than 10,000 in 2020, while passengers carried by the airline dropped from 17.6 million in 2019 to only 8.4 million in 2020.


Although international passenger traffic was drastically curtailed, Air New Zealand’s Cargo team stepped up to maintain critical cargo capacity, operating 3,306 flights carrying cargo under the Government’s International Air Freight capacity (IAFC) Scheme. The carrier brought over 10 million PPE items into the country, while the company’s cleaning teams used over 45,000 liters of cleaning disinfectant, to keep the fleet sanitized. The airline also encouraged Kiwis to explore their own back yard, offering over three million seats for under $100.


Throughout the year, the company also donated over a million items to organizations and charities throughout the country including 190,000 Cookie Time cookies, nearly 9,500 bedding items, around 9,600 inflight service items and nearly 800,000 dry goods items. Last year, Air New Zealand also launched their Carepoints initiative, resulting in customer donations of nearly 250,000 Airpoints Dollars to KidsCan, Women’s Refuge and New Zealand Red Cross. Additionally, the carrier transported 508 precious threatened wildlife and 60 conservation dogs across Aotearoa and established 5,000 additional hectares of sustained pest control areas on New Zealand’s Great Walks, expanding the controlled area to 43,247 hectares.


Speaking on the challenges of 2020, Air New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer, Greg Foran, commented,


“What Air New Zealanders managed to achieve in such a dynamic environment and up against so many challenges is just phenomenal. Returning to usual levels of air travel will be complex, but we are working closely with government agencies on preparations for safe travel. In the meantime, we are using this time to ensure the Air New Zealand that emerges from COVID-19 is stronger than ever before and will continue to enrich the country, connecting New Zealanders with each other and New Zealand with the world.”


2020 By the Numbers - Infographic Courtesy Air New Zealand

Source: Air New Zealand

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