Air New Zealand to slash domestic schedule in face of lockdown

New Zealand has entered lockdown to stop the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19.

Air New Zealand will significantly curtail its domestic network after the New Zealand government imposed a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The discovery of a delta variant COVID-19 case in Auckland on Aug. 17 led the government to introduce a snap lockdown for at least seven days for the Auckland and Coromandel regions and three days for the rest of the country. There were at least 10 cases confirmed by Aug. 18 in the first COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand in almost six months.

Under the "level four" lockdown, people are required to stay home with few exceptions, and travel is only allowed for essential services. The government has allowed a 48-hr. period for those traveling to return to their homes.

Air New Zealand said it would operate its normal domestic schedule during this 48-hr. window. After that, it will be dramatically cutting back its network and schedule.

On Aug. 20, the airline will be operating just seven daily flights on five domestic routes. The schedule after that for most of the country will depend on the progress of the outbreak. For Auckland, however, domestic flights will be limited to 2-3 per day through at least Aug. 24.

Air New Zealand had managed to return its domestic capacity to pre-COVID-19 levels. With international travel off the menu, domestic demand has been relatively strong.

Like Air New Zealand, Jetstar said it will continue operating its normal New Zealand domestic schedule until midnight on Aug. 19 to allow customers to return home. While there will be flight cancelations after that, some services may remain in place for essential travel, Jetstar said.

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