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Air New Zealand to put out additional aircraft as Kiwis scramble home before coronavirus lockdown

Air New Zealand has announced it will put out additional aircraft, including larger models, to ensure as many Kiwis as possible can arrive home before the country enters lockdown at midnight on ednesday.

It comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday raised New Zealand's Covid-19 alert level to three, with level four to follow from tomorrow. All non-essential businesses wil be forced to close and people must self-isolate for at least one month.

The country so far has 155 confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus, after a further 40 people today tested positive for the illness.

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Director General of Public Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced 40 new cases on March 24. Source: 1 NEWS

"We know that many people across New Zealand are trying to get home before Wednesday evening's alert level four deadline," Air New Zealand Senior Manager Customer Care and Communications Doug Grant said.

"We're working as hard and as fast as we can across our network to make that happen for as many people as possible. To do that, we're putting on additional aircraft, including larger aircraft, to ensure that we can get as many people moving as possible."

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Jacinda Ardern announced level four of the Covid-19 plan will be implemented in 48 hours. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Grant thanked New Zealanders for their patience while the airline navigates "these incredibly tricky times".

He also urged customers with travel plans in place that they did not plan on using to go to the Air New Zealand website to cancel their booking.

"What this will do is free up really important seats for customers who need to travel domestically in the next 24 hours," he said.

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Anyone looking to book a ticket with Air New Zealand has been advised not to go through their contact centre, but to instead find available bookings on their website.

"We're still working through what alert level four means for Air New Zealand's flight schedules on our international and domestic networks," he said. An update will be made available in the coming days.

Information on additional seats, and the services they will be made available on, is on the Air New Zealand website.