Air New Zealand is asking customers to get ready for international travel by getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
From 1 February 2022, the airline will require all passengers aged 18 and older travelling anywhere on its international network to be fully vaxxed.
Air New Zealand customers who are not vaccinated will be required to present proof that vaccination was not a viable option for them for medical reasons.
“We’re getting ready to reconnect with the world and letting customers know what they need to do to be ready to take off when we can,” said Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran.
“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.
“We’ve been hearing from both customers and employees that this measure is important to them. It came through loud and clear in our recent consultation process with employees and we want to do everything we can to protect them.
“Mandating vaccination on our international flights will give both customers and employees the peace of mind that everyone onboard meets the same health requirements as they do.”
The vaccine requirement will sit alongside the other COVID-safe measures the airline already has in place, and is in line with the New Zealand government’s vaccine mandate for non-citizens arriving in the country from November.
“It’s not just customers who will be required to be vaccinated – it’s everyone on board an Air New Zealand aircraft travelling internationally, adding to the health and safety measures we already have in place. Another tool in our toolbox,” Foran continued.
“As with anything, there will be some that disagree. However, we know this is the right thing to do to protect our people, our customers and the wider New Zealand community.
“We’ll spend the next few months making sure we get this right, ensuring it works as smoothly as possible for our customers. This also gives anyone wanting to travel from next year plenty of time to get their vaccination.”
Foran said Air New Zealand was continuing to work on rolling out the International Air Transport Association’s Travel Pass to “take some of the friction out of the travel experience and to help our customers know exactly what they need to travel before even getting to the airport”.
In other news, Air New Zealand chief operating officer Carrie Hurihanganui has resigned from the airline to take on the role of CEO at Auckland Airport.
Hurihanganui intends to take up her new role early in 2022, with Air New Zealand to kick off the recruitment process for her replacement in the coming months.
Foran says Hurihanganui’s extensive career with the airline has been an inspiration to many within the company.
“Joining more than 22 years ago as an international cabin crew member and rising to lead over 6,000 people, Carrie has developed exceptional leadership skills and operational knowledge,” he said.
“It will be very sad to see her leave the company, but great to see her lead an organisation we work so closely with.
“Carrie has done an exceptional job, especially since COVID began to impact our business. It was no small feat to keep our operations running across engineering, airports, airline operations, properties, supply chain, cabin crew and pilots during a constantly-changing crisis.
“The industry may not be out of this yet, but it will be nice to know Carrie isn’t too far away as we work together to rebuild aviation for New Zealanders.”
Featured image source: iStock/Rusell Hendry