Air New Zealand has today apologised to its customers for long call centre wait times and confusion surrounding flight credits and refunds.
The airline says customers who have had their flights cancelled because of Covid-19 have received, or will receive, a credit.
But customers have complained about how difficult it is to actually get the flight credit, let alone use it. Many have cited long wait times when trying to get through to the airline’s call centre to get the credit.
Cam Wallace, chief revenue officer at Air New Zealand, today apologised to the affected customers, and said the airline will make it better.
“It’s really fair to say that the process for availing those credits has not been good and we apologise to our customers on behalf of the airline for that,” Mr Wallace said during an interview with 1 NEWS.
"It's not acceptable for our customers to have to wait for a long time on the phone so we need to make that process smoother."
In a bid to win that trust back, Mr Wallace said the airline is boosting its customer service offering and has also created a digital solution to help with the credit processing.
"We are making things right. By next week we’ll be sending out emails to tell people how much credit they have and then in about five weeks time we’ll have an online solution.
"Up until that time we’re putting hundreds of more people into the contact centre and we’re frankly asking for some patience. We know it's not right. We will make it better and want to win back the trust of our customers."
Mr Wallace said the long wait times are a result of having to lay off staff due to Covid-19, and changes under Alert Level 2.
"Originally, in Level 2, there was no leisure travel and thankfully that changed... but that made us put a lot more planes in the air, more seats available and more people keen to travel and that's a really good thing.
"But it caught us short in terms of the number of staff we had available to deal with the credits."
Last week, Consumer NZ put Air New Zealand to task over its credit offering, saying it should instead be giving customers refunds.
A survey by the watchdog found 80 per cent of affected customers had received credits rather than cash, which Consumer NZ said it didn't agree with.
At the time, Air New Zealand said its customers agreed to terms and conditions of the fare when they purchased their tickets, so the airline couldn't offer cash refunds to non-refundable tickets.
Customers have until June 2021 to book using their credit and a further 12 months to complete their travel from that booking.
It comes as the airline continues to grow its service offering, in the wake of Covid-19 cancellations.
Air New Zealand has today updated its domestic flight schedule for July and August, following an earlier schedule update last week for its business customers.
The airline plans to operate around 55 per cent of its usual domestic capacity, compared to pre-Covid-19 levels, during July and August.
General manager of networks Scott Carr says the demand for leisure travel has been encouraging.
"We’re also expecting demand for business travel to continue to build. As a result, we have been working to add more flying to our domestic schedule from next month and this includes additional services for the July school holidays."
Air New Zealand’s direct A320 flight between Auckland and Invercargill will also be back in action on July 6.