Seats on Air New Zealand flights coming into the country will be "managed" to ease pressure on managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
Housing Minister Megan Woods and Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the person overseeing the quarantine system, met with Air New Zealand officials last week to discuss the management of returning New Zealanders.
“Air New Zealand has agreed to put a temporary hold on new bookings in the short term, as well as looking at aligning daily arrivals with the capacity available at managed isolation facilities," she said.
“People who have already booked flights with Air New Zealand will still be able to enter New Zealand subject to availability of quarantine space.”
The move follows similar restrictions in Australia, where passenger numbers into Sydney were limited following the suspension of flights into Melbourne due to Covid-19.
“We are seeing rapid growth in the numbers of New Zealanders coming home as the Covid-19 pandemic worsens," Ms Woods said.
“Our number one priority is stopping the virus at the border, so everyone must to go into quarantine or managed isolation.
"The Government is also talking to other airlines about managing flows. The last thing we need are hastily set up facilities to meet demand, so we must have a manageable number of fit-for-purpose, safe facilities that do the job of stopping Covid at the border."
There are currently around 6000 people in 28 managed isolation facilities throughout the country. In total, more than 26,400 people have been through managed isolation or quarantine in New Zealand since March 26.
“These temporary measures will ease the current demand on facilities while additional supply is brought on line," Ms Woods said.
"In the past three weeks we have brought on capacity of 10 new facilities for 2000 more people, and have a plan to bring on another 750 places in the coming weeks.
“The pause on new bookings will be short-term, and allows us to increase supply to match forecasted demand over the coming weeks."
In a statement, Air New Zealand chief commercial and customer officer Cam Wallace said, "We accept this is a necessary short-term measure given the limited capacity in quarantine facilities and we’re keen to do what we can to help New Zealand’s continued success in its fight against Covid-19.”
He said the airline is contacting customers impacted by the changes.
Outbound Air New Zealand services from New Zealand to international ports are not affected by the New Zealand Government restrictions. Domestic services are also not impacted.