New Zealand government and Air NZ pause inbound flights on quarantine facility crunch

(Reuters) – The New Zealand government said on Tuesday it agreed with Air New Zealand Ltd to put a short-term hold on new bookings of inbound international flights, in a bid to restrict passenger numbers because of limited quarantine facilities.

“We are seeing rapid growth in the numbers of New Zealanders coming home as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens,” Housing Minister Megan Woods said in a statement.

“Our number one priority is stopping the virus at the border, so everyone must to go into quarantine or managed isolation. The government is also talking to other airlines about managing flows.”

“The last thing we need are hastily set up facilities to meet demand, so we must have a manageable number of fit-for-purpose, safe facilities that do the job of stopping COVID at the border,” Woods added.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb said New Zealand currently had nearly 6,000 people in 28 managed isolation facilities and was planning to scale up more spaces to manage demand in coming weeks.

Aside from a hold on new bookings for the next three weeks, Air NZ said in a separate statement it was looking at aligning daily arrivals with the capacity available at managed isolation facilities.

The airline’s domestic services and outbound services from New Zealand to international ports would not be affected by the restrictions, the airline said.

Reporting and photo: Reuters

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