Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Waiting game for trapped Kiwis as window closes to get home

New Zealanders stranded in Queenstown are waiting to see if the Government will extend the 48-hour grace period following lockdown’s announcement on Tuesday.

The Government put the entire country into alert level four following the discovery of a community case of Covid-19 earlier this week.

Kiwis who were not at their usual place of residence were given 48 hours to get home, a window set to close at midnight tonight.

NZ Herald Wellington business editor Hamish Rutherford is trying to get home to Wellington from Queenstown, but says there are no flights available within the government’s grace period.

Their original flight had been booked for Sunday.

“We’re booked on the first flight we could get a booking on … from Queenstown to Wellington on Friday but we just don’t know if that plane will be allowed to take off.

“We’re just waiting to see if Air New Zealand can get an extension to fly out of Queenstown for another day or two.”

If they were still unclear on whether they could depart Queenstown on Friday, Rutherford said they may have to drive the five hours to Christchurch in the hope of getting on a flight there today.

Air New Zealand boss Greg Foran told RNZ about 600 people will be stuck in Queenstown if the government doesn’t extend its deadline for people to get home for specific regions.

Foran hoped to hear from the Government within the next hour about whether the airline could be given an extra day to clear the backlog in the popular holiday destination.

Foran said the airline had engaged all its planes and put on more flights, but was expecting a “pinch point” in Queenstown.

Air NZ needed until early evening tomorrow to get people home from there.

Air New Zealand has reportedly organised more than 800 flights for 50,000 passengers throughout the 48-hour window.

But it said when the grace period ends it will adjust its domestic schedule in line with alert level 4 restrictions across the country.

The airline would operate a limited domestic scheduled to allow for essential travel only, from Friday, August 20 to Tuesday, August 24.

It said customers booked to travel on Friday would receive a cancellation email, and their bookings held in credit.

“During alert level 4, travel is restricted to essential services only,” said an update from the airline.

“Customers who are travelling should check they are eligible to travel under alert level 4 on the Government’s Covid-19 website.

“These customers will also need to carry a letter to prove they are travelling for essential services.”

There were no flights to or from Queenstown listed in Air New Zealand’s revised schedule.

It included two daily return services between Christchurch and Wellington, and one between Wellington and Nelson.

Until Saturday there would be one daily return service between Wellington and Auckland, and from Saturday this would drop down to just four times a week.

From Saturday there would be just one return service between Auckland and Wellington, four days a week.

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