LONDON – With New Zealand flag carrier Air New Zealand experiencing its busiest period in two years, the airline is set to handle over half a million passengers in the next fortnight.
Perhaps the estimated 670,000 passengers is a relatively small number as far as other nations go, but for New Zealand – a small island nation with a population of just 5 million people – this is certainly not an insignificant number.
USA and Hawaii in demand
In terms of its international operations, the US remains a popular favourite with New Zealanders.
More than 170,000 passengers are estimated to be flying on Air New Zealand’s international network across the school holiday period,
A large proportion are booked on US routes, as scheduled flights to Houston get up and running again. Honolulu, Hawaii is also a much-favoured travel destination.
Australia and the Trans-Tasman network
With its nearest neighbour Australia less than four hours travel time to the west, flights to Australia are also in high demand. The reciprocal Trans-Tasman agreement makes it relatively easy for national of both nations to travel backwards and forwards.
As from this week the airline has resumed services to all nine Australian destinations.
The relationship between the two Commonwealth nations has always been historically close, though it went through a period of strain under the previous Australian government.
With Australia now under new leadership with a Labor government led by new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the formerly strong relationship has been rekindled in recent weeks with the respective leaders meeting in very positive exchanges.
Perhaps this renewed sense of connection also plays some small part in driving the resurgence of demand for flights “across the Ditch” between New Zealand and Australia.
Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says it is fantastic to see international travel ramping up, and notes that the airlines domestic schedule is now back to 100 percent of pre-Covid levels.
“We’re excited to get so many customers off to their holiday destinations, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. Much like other businesses around New Zealand, we’re experiencing higher than usual employee sickness.”
“This coupled with tumultuous weather is likely to cause some disruptions across the network over the coming days.”
“Our teams are working hard to ensure any disruptions are as minimal as possible, and alternative travel arrangements are available”.
Smoothing the way
The airline has recognised that the next two weeks are not only going to be incredibly busy in the air, but it will place great pressure on airports as well.
To anticipate this potential chaos, the airline is encouraging customers to prepare all their travel documents prior to arriving at the airport, and to allow plenty of time to move through check-in, security and get to the gate.
For domestic passengers, the airline has recommended as many people as possible check-in via the Air New Zealand mobile app, to further reduce the potential for delays and queues at terminal kiosks.
New Zealand was a world leader in its preparedness for the Covid crisis, and its national flag carrier is certainly operating with a similar level of preparation and foresight as customers flock to the airports in the wake of the pandemic.