Air New Zealand latest airline to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations for travellers

International passengers need to be fully immunised when flying to any of the national airline's overseas destinations

Air New Zealand is requiring all international travellers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 from February. Photo: flickr
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Travellers planning to fly with Air New Zealand will need to ensure they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The national airline of New Zealand is the latest to require all international travellers to have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine before they are allowed to fly. It follows a similar announcement by Australian airline Qantas last month.

From February 1, all travellers flying to any destination on Air New Zealand’s international network will have to be fully vaccinated or have exemption to board the flight. This does not apply to travellers flying domestically with the airline.

"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," says Air New Zealand's chief executive 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.”

Air New Zealand's vaccination requirement will apply to all passengers aged 18 and older arriving or departing Aotearoa.

Travellers who are not vaccinated will have to present medical proof that shows exemption, or they will not be able to fly.

Ahead of restarting international flights, Air New Zealand says it will work closely with government and airport groups to finalise what the new rules will mean for passengers. This will likely include defining which vaccines are accepted, which age groups must be vaccinated and how far in advance travellers will have to have taken their jabs.

“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,” said Foran.

Under the new rules, it's "not just customers who will be required to be vaccinated – it's everyone on board an Air New Zealand aircraft travelling internationally", Foran clarified. The airline has already mandated that pilots, cabin crew, airport and cargo staff must have had their first vaccine by Sunday, November 14.

New Zealand plans to reopen international borders to non-citizens early next year. The country has been closed to visitors since March 2020, and has some of the strictest rules in place for citizens looking to visit their home country.

As part of preparing for the restart of international travel, Air New Zealand said it will also roll out the International Air Transport Associations (IATA) Travel Pass app. This allows the airline to check people's health information against their flight details to ensure they meet entry requirements for that destination, as well as the airline's own rules.

“The app is based on decentralised technology which means there is no central database holding passenger information. Passengers have complete discretion as to whether they share their data or not and they can delete their data at any time on the app, without fear of this being stored," read an Air New Zealand statement.

Updated: October 03, 2021, 6:35 AM