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Air NZ domestic network operating about 85% of pre-Covid levels, as frontline staff to be vaccinated this week

Air New Zealand has one of the most active domestic travel networks in the world, amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has grounded airlines around the globe.

Airbus A321neo in Air New Zealand livery Source: Supplied

Air New Zealand’s General Manager of Networks Scott Carr told 1 NEWS the airline has 32 Airbus aircraft in its fleet which are all currently operating.

“We are fortunate to have one of the most robust domestic networks in the world at present, as a result of New Zealand getting on top of the Covid-19 pandemic quickly,” Carr says.

“Our domestic network is currently operating at around 85 per cent of pre-Covid levels despite these months usually having the highest proportion of international passengers.”

The Airbus fleet consists of 21 A320ceo aircraft (ceo stands for current engine option), four A320neos (new engine option), and seven A321neo aircraft.

Carr says all of these currently operate either on Air New Zealand’s domestic network, or fly the trans-Tasman or Pacific quarantine-free flights.

“Our A320 and A321 fleet do all of our domestic jet network flying, operating to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Invercargill and Dunedin alongside our turboprop services to the regions.”

It comes as the Associated Press reports that European plane maker Airbus lost NZ$1.8 billion amid an unprecedented global slump in air travel because of the pandemic, but expects to deliver hundreds of planes and make a profit this year despite uncertainty about when people will resume flying en masse.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury acknowledged yesterday that the company's performance last year was "far from expectations" and had to constantly adapt as airlines grounded planes – or folded altogether -- because of travel restrictions.

Airbus doesn't expect the industry to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2023-2025.

Frontline workers to be vaccinated this week. 

Frontline Air New Zealand staff are expected to be vaccinated this week, as a nationwide Covid-19 immunisation programme kicked off today. 

Air New Zealand chief medical officer Ben Johnston told 1 NEWS the company has provided the Ministry of Health with the names of its frontline workers, including pilots, cabin crew and Auckland and Wellington-based airport and cargo workers.

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Dr Ashley Bloomfield says it's a milestone for the country.

"In line with the Ministry of Health recommendation, we are strongly encouraging our people to take the opportunity to be vaccinated as part of the priority roll out for border workers," Johnston says. 

"We are pleased to be starting the rollout of vaccinations to Air New Zealand frontline staff this week and we have worked closely with the MOH to identify the work groups who are eligible to be prioritised for the vaccine.

"At this stage, having the vaccine does not remove the need to follow other protocols such as surveillance testing, self-isolation (for crew operating from high risk destinations) and use of PPE."