Air New Zealand is extending its “minimal international operations” period through to August 31 in response to government travel restrictions and low demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flag carrier, which has reduced its international capacity by 95% from pre-coronavirus levels, initially planned for a limited network to continue only through to June 30.
Nick Judd, Air New Zealand chief networks, strategy and alliances officer, said: “While it’s unfortunate the majority of our international network remains cancelled for the foreseeable future, we support the return of safe flying if borders re-open and will update our international network if and when possible.
“We also support the return of safe trans-Tasman flying when practical. We’re keen to work with government and industry partners on steps we can take to safely support economic recovery through travel and connect family and friends.”
The carrier’s international network will consist of eight routes mostly from Auckland to Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Niue, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. In addition, the airline is expected to operate a service linking Sydney and Brisbane with Norfolk Island.
Meanwhile, the carrier announced plans to ground its Boeing 777-200ER and -300ER fleet until at least the end of 2020 in a bid to reduce its cost base amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an earnings report, Air New Zealand outlined a number of actions it is implementing across its whole operation to mitigate the impact the virus has had on its business. The firm has reduced its workforce by approximately 30%, or 4,000 employees, which it expects to produce annual savings of up to NZ$400m (£202m). Elsewhere, the carrier has pushed back or cancelled almost $700m (£354m) in expect capital expenditure until December 2022, including deferrals of planned Airbus A321neo deliveries.
Greg Foran, the airline’s chief executive officer, commented: “Throughout this pandemic, Air New Zealand’s focus has first and foremost been on protecting the health and safety of our customers and our team, while also taking swift and decisive action to protect the long term viability of the airline and preserve liquidity. We are doing everything in our power to ensure Air New Zealand emerges strongly from this crisis.”