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NZ Pilots And Crews’ Rigorous Conditions To Keep Our Borders Safe

26 June 2020

New Zealand’s pilots and crew are enduring rigorous conditions offshore to help keep New Zealand’s borders safe and are discussing the impact of the increased restrictions with the Ministry of Health, New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) President, Captain Andrew Ridling, said today. 

This includes issues of sustainability while the national airline recovers, and how the increased isolation time can be made workable to prevent flight cancellations due to lack of available staff. 


“Understanding the unprecedented and serious nature of the pandemic and the required work of the Ministry, NZALPA and Air New Zealand, with the airline medical specialists, are developing ways to make the restrictions work as they continue to undertake freight and passenger operations globally. 


“Whilst offshore, aircrew are already isolated in their hotel rooms.  They wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when transiting from the aircraft to the hotel in secure transport. All food is either brought with us from New Zealand, or ordered through contactless delivery,” Captain Ridling said. 


“Back home we’re also working together to make sure all our team are well aware of the Ministry of Health’s testing and other tightened requirements. The Ministry has already undertaken a risk analysis on Air New Zealand, specifically on operations into Los Angeles Airport.   


“However, with the indefinite nature of the current pandemic, we are discussing with the Ministry what can be done to curb the impacts of these severe restrictions on the lives of both the pilots, air crews and their families.”


Captain Ridling said that pilots were dedicated to their duty so New Zealand can keep its vital supply lines open, and were already doing so under difficult conditions whilst on layovers.


“Our members do have significant concerns about how, after enduring strict conditions offshore then returning into isolation, only to repeat the process again, can be sustainable.  This is concerning not just for staff wellbeing, but also for an airline in recovery mode with a considerably downsized number of pilots.


“We are worried that, with increased restrictions at our borders, these ultimately will have a detrimental effect on pilots, crew and their families, and also on New Zealand’s exports, international trade, and our urgent need to repatriate and bring our Kiwis home.


Captain Ridling said the success of the stringent restrictions applied at international destinations and onboard was evident, specifically in the US and China, as no Air New Zealand crew members have contracted the virus since these measures were put in place almost three months ago, and no transmission from any airline crew member to a member of public in New Zealand over that period.


“In fact, despite thousands of flights since the start of the pandemic there are only two known or suspected onboard transmissions internationally, and none with Air New Zealand.


“Other measures will also be discussed in order to minimise any transmission risk, especially as we continue the important task of repatriating passengers, keeping trade links open, and ensuring the retention of jobs with our national carrier,” Captain Ridling said. 



Media contact: 

Lisa-Marie Richan 027 278 0441

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