Keen Kiwi travellers snapped up 110,000 Air New Zealand seats on Monday after the national government relaxed social distancing rules on public transport. The record-setting surge in sales was a 254 per cent rise on the average number of tickets Air New Zealand would sell in a single day before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The strong demand is yet more proof that with the right conditions many people are still very eager to get on a plane despite the longterm damage that the Corona crisis might inflict on the aviation industry.
“As soon as the Government announced the removal of physical of distancing travel demand was strong, with 70,000 seats sold in the first six hours,” commented Air New Zealand’s chief executive, Greg Foran. A $50 seat sale no doubt helped as well.
“Kiwis have been incredibly supportive of our airline through what has been a difficult year and we look forward to welcoming more customers on board for their domestic trip soon,” Foran continued.
At the height of the pandemic and when New Zealand was in strict lockdown, the national flag carrier carried just 670 passengers in a single day in late March – a mere 1.4 per cent of its usual passenger loads. The country is now at Alert Level 2 which allows for free movement around New Zealand and gatherings in most areas of up to 100 people.
On Monday, health officials further relaxed Coronavirus protection measures by lifting the requirement for physical distancing on all modes of public transport, including air travel. Face masks remain compulsory.
Air New Zealand is currently flying approximately 200,000 seats per week, which is around 70-75 per cent of pre-COVID-19 capacity but the airline has still been hit hard by the pandemic. In June, the airline said it could shrink by as much as 70 per cent and 1,500 cabin crew have been laid off.
International flights remain largely grounded and its Boeing 777 fleet won’t return to the skies until at least next year.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.