No passengers arriving on Air New Zealand mercy flight

A mercy flight for New Zealanders and others who will be repatriated out of Samoa on Friday will arrive without passengers and return to Auckland with at least 200 people, Air New Zealand has confirmed.

Earlier this week the New Zealand High Commission confirmed flight NZ993 had been approved by the Government of Samoa to help get people home.

In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, Air New Zealand confirmed it will not bring any passengers to Samoa, except for a cargo of essential supplies.

The round trip will be made in one day with no need for the flight crew to remain in Apia overnight.

“The aircraft to be operated is an A321 aircraft capable of carrying in excess of 200 passengers from Apia to Auckland,” a spokesperson for the airline said.

“Air New Zealand is aware there is significant demand for travellers to leave Samoa and for freight into and out of the country. The airline will continue to comply with the Samoan government in protecting Samoa from Covid-19.”

Asked how the crew will be prepared for protecting passengers and the local airport crew from any potential infection from an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19, the airline directed questions to the Ministry of Health of Samoa.

This week the Air New Zealand office in town was packed with eager travellers hoping to book a coveted seat on the ride home.

With more demand than supply available, the New Zealand High Commission has advised people to register their interest with the airline and stay tuned for future opportunities to fly.

Flights leaving Samoa under the severely restrictive conditions of emergency lockdowns for both Samoa and New Zealand are commercial and customers are paying fairly high prices for them, in advance.

The passengers who do get lucky will be in mandatory isolation on the New Zealand Government’s pocket for a fortnight when they return to Auckland.

“The New Zealand Government has introduced a strict 14-day managed isolation/quarantine requirement for all international arrivals into New Zealand, effective from midnight on 9 April.

“All travellers will be taken directly to either a managed isolation facility (hotel) or a quarantine facility (a separate hotel) for at least 14 days. 

“The New Zealand government is paying the cost of the accommodation and meals in these facilities. You will need to take sufficient and suitable clothing, baby supplies, personal medications and hygiene products/toiletries to cover 14 days. Access to supermarkets, ATMs and pharmacies will not be possible.”

New Zealand citizens and residents may travel to New Zealand and do not need approval from Immigration New Zealand (I.N.Z.) before travelling.

Travellers who must seek approval from I.N.Z. before travelling using the limited exceptions process include: partners, dependent children (aged 24 years and under) and legal guardians of New Zealand citizens and residents, who are travelling with their New Zealand family member to New Zealand, and Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand.

All other travel to New Zealand by people who hold an NZeTA or a current work, student, visitor, limited or transit visa is not permitted.

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