Air New Zealand Ditches Vaxxine Requirements
By Lorna Thornber
Air New Zealand is dropping its vaccine requirements for both domestic and international passengers.
From Thursday, domestic passengers will no longer have to show either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test, and international flights will be open to both the vaccinated and unvaccinated from May 1.
The change in policy follows New Zealand’s move to the orange light setting of the traffic light system at 11:59pm on Wednesday.
The airline will also bring back its food and beverage service on domestic flights from April 15, and its Koru Hour service on April 20.
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said easing restrictions made sense given the country’s highly vaccinated population and drop in transmission of the virus.
“As Omicron took hold in the community, we put in place several temporary measures aimed at keeping our employees, customers and New Zealand safe. After a careful risk assessment, we feel now is the right time to step back some of those measures.
“New Zealand is moving back towards a sense of normality. We’re seeing customers return to our domestic network, and we’re welcoming back Australians. We’re aware that Covid is not behind us yet, and we have taken a considered approach and will continue to revise safety measures depending on what we’re seeing here in New Zealand and around the world.”
Face masks are still mandatory on all domestic flights and at airports – no matter which airline you’re flying with. Air New Zealand also requires them to be worn on international services.
Stuff understands Jetstar will also no longer require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test result on domestic flights.
In line with Australian government requirements, passengers on international Qantas Group flights to and from Australia, including Jetstar flights across the Tasman, must be fully vaccinated.
University of Auckland epidemiologist Rod Jackson said he thought it was a mistake to remove vaccination requirements, particularly on international flights where there is more time for passengers to infect one another, potentially with new variants.
“In my view with the loosening of other restrictions under orange, we should be keeping and extending vaccine passes to include 3 doses.”
Jackson is in favour of keeping pre-departure tests for the same reasons.
“Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon, so it doesn’t seem sensible to remove restrictions that are easy to implement. Vaccine passes on flights are easy to implement – as shown over the last year – so should be kept. I would feel safer flying if they were kept.”