Extra weekly flight added to Air New Zealand’s schedule after one-way bubble announcement

Friday 15 January 2021 | Written by Emmanuel Samoglou | Published in Local, National


Extra weekly flight added to Air New Zealand’s schedule after one-way bubble announcement
Photo: Cook Islands News. 20050837

Air New Zealand has added an extra flight to its weekly schedule in advance of quarantine free travel for residents and valid visa holders currently in the Cook Islands.

Beginning next week, tickets are being sold for two flights per week on the airline’s website, with flights scheduled to depart Rarotonga on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

According to statements by both governments, Cook Islands nationals and residents who can obtain a valid visa will be able to travel without the requirement of mandatory 14-day quarantine as of January 20 (Cook Islands time).

To be eligible to enter New Zealand, passengers must not have been outside of the Cook Islands or New Zealand or have had contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case in the past 14 days. They must also pass health checks which include assessment from a qualified health practitioner that they are Covid-19 free.

For foreign nationals, existing rules will apply for those wishing to travel to NZ. Applicants must be in the Cook Islands when applying for either a visa or the New Zealand electronic travel authority (NZeTA), according to the Cook Islands government.

It is not yet clear if passport holders who aren’t from visa-waiver countries will be permitted to travel, as the NZ government suspended applications for some overseas applicants last August.

Upon arrival in New Zealand, passengers must wear a facemask and practice physical distancing with other passengers at the airport.

Public health officials in NZ will be undertaking random temperature checks of passengers on all flights arriving from the Cook Islands into New Zealand.

According to an NZ government statement, Auckland Airport will separating arriving Cook Islands residents from other arriving passengers by giving Cook Islands flights exclusive use of the international terminal for arrivals processing.

Additionally, there will be no other arriving flights within 90 minutes of either side of the scheduled arrival time.

Passengers will also be escorted off flights and through the terminal in areas marked by stanchions and barriers. The terminal is expected to undergo cleaning between flights.

There will also be a dedicated and sanitised baggage carousel to be used exclusively by travellers originating from the Cook Islands, the statement read.

A separate path will lead passengers through the public area of the arrivals hall with a double barrier from a separate path used by travelers going into managed isolation or quarantine.

Before returning to the Cook Islands, passengers will need to undertake a Covid-19 test within 96 hours of their flight departing, which must be negative and complete the exit health clearance process at Auckland International Airport.

Air New Zealand chief executive officer Greg Foran says the airline is proud to be bringing Rarotongan neighbours to New Zealand and making headway with two-way quarantine-free travel.

“This is fantastic news for both Cook Islanders and New Zealanders. We know many Cook Islanders will be eager to connect with friends and family in New Zealand, and we look forward to seeing what a two-way quarantine-free travel arrangement will look like,” Foran said in a statement.

“Of course safety is our first priority for our customers and staff. We’ve been working closely with both governments, relevant agencies and airports on what is required to keep our customers and staff safe once travel opens up.”