Just nine available repatriation flights to get New Zealanders out of COVID-hit Syndey sold out within minutes of being put on sale on Monday according to Air New Zealand. The airline has been restricted from laying on more flights for the massive demand because of a lack of quarantine facilities.
On Monday, New South Wales reported 112 new locally acquired cases in the Sydney area raising fears that a lockdown will have to be extended beyond July 16 because the current set of tough pandemic controls are failing to reduce the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.
There are around 2,500 Kiwi’s who are currently stuck in Sydney wanting to get home to New Zealand but only 1,000 spaces are available in managed isolation facilities (MIQ) over the next fortnight.
Unlike arrivals from other countries, repatriated New Zealander’s coming from Sydney won’t have to pay for their 14-day quarantine stay.
“We would love to be able to bring more Kiwis home to their families, but we’re limited by the availability of MIQ spots,” commented Leanne Geraghty, Air New Zealand’s chief customer and sales officer as the seats went on sale.
On each flight, only 40 to 60 seats will be made available – around a third of the maximum number of seats on each flight.
“We recognise this is a very stressful and emotional time for those customers wishing to return from NSW, and we’re doing everything we can to get them home as quickly and as safely as possible,” Geraghty continued.
Tickets were put up for sale on a first-come, first-served basis but around 20 per cent of the available seats will be made available to people with compassionate grounds which will be judged by government officials rather than Air New Zealand.
Quarantine travel from other parts of Australia to New Zealand is still possible but all passengers must now present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before departure.
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.