Air New Zealand is to add a stopover in Honolulu for all of its cargo and passenger services to North America so that flight attendants and pilots don’t have to stay in high-risk locations where COVID-19 cases are surging. The extra fuel and crew change stop in Hawaii will affect flights to both Los Angeles and San Francisco where Stay at Home orders are currently in force in an attempt to bring the novel Coronavirus under control.
While COVID-19 is still endemic in Hawaii, the state has done a relatively good job at keeping the virus under control. On Monday, the state recorded 134 new cases with a test positivity rate of 3.4 per cent.
The situation in California, however, has become so serious that there is currently no intensive care unit bed capacity in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley with some hospitals saying they are running out of oxygen such is the demand. The state recorded 29,633 new cases on Monday and nearly 100 deaths.
“While it’s important to keep trade routes open and passenger services operating for our customers, looking after our people is our first priority,” explained Air New Zealand’s chief executive Greg Foran.
“Re-routing North American flights through Honolulu means aircrew can overnight in a lower risk destination while still maintaining vital connections into North America,” a statement from the airline continued.
Flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco will make a brief stopover in Honolulu where pilots and flight attendants will get off and a new set of crew will board. The new crew will then fly to California but won’t get off the aircraft before returning to Honolulu to once again swap with a new set of crew.
Air New Zealand currently operates eight cargo and two passenger services per week between to Los Angeles, along with four cargo services to San Francisco. Passengers will not be able to book flights to Honolulu.
The change will affect cargo flights beginning January 11, while the new stopover won’t be added to passenger services until February 2. In the meantime, flight attendants aren’t allowed to leave their layover hotel and are forbidden from using the hotel’s gym or pool areas.
Only food delivered to the room can be consumed and on their return, crew must go into quarantine for 48-hours before taking a COVID-19 test. They must then self-isolate until the results are returned.
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.