Air New Zealand will invite Kiwis onboard one of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s this upcoming weekend to receive their COVID-19 vaccine as part of a ‘jabaseat’ promotion which will form a part of what has been dubbed New Zealand’s Super Saturday Vaxathon.
The long-haul aircraft won’t be flying anywhere but will be turned into a vaccine clinic at Auckland airport for one day only so that local residents, airport workers and Air New Zealand employees can get their jab.
“I’m told people will be vaccinated in business class before waiting out their time in economy class with snacks provided,” said Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins during a press conference as details of Super Saturday were revealed.
New Zealand is keen to move its sluggish vaccination programme forward after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted that the country would have to move away from a COVID-zero strategy because the delta variant was proving too difficult to eliminate.
According to Our World in Data, around 21 per cent of New Zealand’s population are so far fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A further 50 per cent of the total population have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Auckland remains in Level 3 lockdown which means most shops are shut, hairdressers can’t operate and residents have to wear a face mask when outside. Home working is encouraged and travel between regions is prohibited.
“We know Aucklanders have been doing it tough recently and we hope the idea of boarding an international aircraft for the first time in a long while will lift some spirits – while also encouraging people to protect themselves,” commented Air New Zealand’s Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Officer Captain David Morgan.
Last week, Air New Zealand’s chief executive Greg Foran revealed that the airline would introduce a ‘no jab, no fly’ policy won’t international travel resumes.
“Being vaccinated against COVID-19 is the new reality of international travel –many of the destinations Kiwis want to visit are already closed to unvaccinated visitors. The quicker we get vaccinated, the sooner we can fly Kiwis to places like New York, Vancouver and Narita,” Foran commented.
The vaccination requirement will apply to all passengers aged over 18 years old on all international Air New Zealand flights. There will be an exemption for passengers who can prove that “vaccination was not a viable option for them for medical reasons.”
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.