Air New Zealand is to drop its ‘no jab, no fly’ policy that banned anyone not vaccinated against COVID-19 from boarding its flights. The policy will initially be lifted for passengers on domestic flights from Friday 15th April, while the ‘no jab, no fly’ rule will remain in place on international flights for a couple more weeks until 1st May.
On Friday, the airline will also reintroduce food and beverage service on short domestic hops. Air New Zealand pulled all food and drink services from domestic flights in late December so that passengers had no excuse to remove their face masks during the flight.
The ban was introduced as New Zealand was battling a COVID-19 surge brought about by the introduction of the Omicron variant. The highly transmissible variant has, however, brought about a change in strategy by the New Zealand government and, as a result, the once isolated country is now reopening to the world.
On Wednesday, New Zealand reopened to quarantine-free travel for Australians crossing ditch, while quarantine restrictions will be lifted for travellers from visa waiver countries like the United Kingdom, United States, France and Japan from 2nd May.
Most international tourists must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to qualify for entry to New Zealand under the reopening rules but Air New Zealand’s ‘no jab, no fly’ policy went even further. For example, unvaccinated New Zealand citizens don’t need to be vaccinated to qualify for entry but Air New Zealand’s policy banned them from boarding its flights.
“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,” said Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran on Thursday.
“New Zealand is moving back towards a sense of normality,” Foran continued. 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.
Although the airline is resuming food and beverage service, face masks are still required to be worn on domestic flights. The government does not have a face mask mandate for international flights like the United States but Air New Zealand will keep its own policy in place for international services.
The airline is also maintaining its ‘no jab, no fly’ policy for employees who must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to secure a job with the carrier.
Australian flag carrier Qantas does not have a domestic vaccination requirement but the airline does still have its own ‘no jab, no fly’ policy for international flights.
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.