COVID-19: Aviation sector

Information and guidance for the aviation sector.

Last updated: 22 June 2022

Updates to the Air Border Settings

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Air Border Order

The new Air Border Order came into effect at 11:59pm on Sunday 27 February 2022, giving effect to Reconnecting New Zealanders with the World (RNZ). More information about RNZ and the different Steps under that plan can be found at When New Zealand's borders open on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

The new Air Border Order has since been amended by the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border) Amendment Order (No 5) 2022. The key changes made by the Amendment Order which are applicable to aircrew are:

  • No pre-departure tests are required to enter New Zealand – this includes travellers and aircrew  
  • If they have symptoms similar to COVID-19 caused by other pre-existing conditions (e.g., Hayfever), they can get a medical certificate from a qualified person who has examined them within 48 hours of their flight advising they have determined their symptoms likely to be something other than COVID-19, or they can provide a negative result from a supervised COVID-19 test.   
  • New Zealand Based Aircrew are no longer required to complete an Aircrew Traveller Declaration form on arrival in New Zealand, are no longer required to return as soon as reasonably practicable after leaving New Zealand, and to only have visited two ports outside of NZ to be considered aircrew   
  • A new way of providing for certain travellers like overseas-based aircrew to voluntarily ask the Chief Executive of MBIE if they can enter a MIQF. However, the decision will consider the capacity of MIQ to isolate them, and the person must consent.  The decision will also consider the capability to isolate them after considering the health, safety and wellbeing of the staff and other residents at the facility (note that the MIQF pathway will be paused from 30 June 2022).  
  • Remove face covering requirements on arrival and physical distancing from the Air Border Order – these continue to be a requirement in some settings under the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

The new rules apply to any flight that departed for New Zealand after 11.59 pm (NZT) 20 June 2022.

General information for airline and airport operators

Specified airports (under the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border) Order 2021 – Specified Airport of Arrival Notice) are:

  • Auckland airport
  • Christchurch airport
  • Wellington airport
  • Queenstown airport.

Both scheduled and non-scheduled international air services are permitted for travel to a specified port in New Zealand.

Guidance for aircrew arriving in New Zealand by air

Aircrew are treated separately to general travellers under the Air Border Order and have their own arrival pathway. As a general rule, all aircrew members are free from the requirement to test on arrival in New Zealand by air, subject to meeting the requirements that apply to them.

From 11:59pm 20 June 2022, the health requirements that apply to New Zealand-based aircrew and overseas-based aircrew are the same.  

Eligibility as Aircrew for the purpose of the Air Border Order

A person is a New Zealand-Based Aircrew Member if they are ordinarily resident in New Zealand and arrive in New Zealand:

  • As crew on an aircraft which they were working on; or 
  • For repositioning purposes (that is, for the purpose of connecting with another aircraft on which they will work on as crew); or 
  • To complete training that they have been directed by their employer to undertake and that the Civil Aviation Authority, or an equivalent international regulator, requires aircrew members to complete.  

A person is an Overseas-Based Aircrew member if they meet the above (i.e., arrive as crew, for repositioning purposes, or to complete training) but are not ordinarily resident in New Zealand.

Persons who do not meet the above definition of New Zealand-based or Overseas-Based Aircrew member may be eligible for entry to New Zealand as a general traveller. Further information about arriving in New Zealand as a general traveller can be found at Reconnecting New Zealanders to the World.

Requirements on entry for Aircrew   

Aircrew are a separate class of border worker, as they frequently cross the border as part of their work, putting them at high risk of being infected by and importing new variants of concern.

As such, all aircrew members arriving in New Zealand by air must be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to arriving in New Zealand. Information about how to meet this requirement can be found at Vaccination requirements for travel to New Zealand

This requirement applies even if Aircrew are only transiting New Zealand. The option to be excused or exempt from the vaccination requirement does not apply to aircrew.

In addition, Aircrew must meet the following requirements when travelling to New Zealand by air:

  • Must not exhibit COVID-19 symptoms when boarding their direct or first connecting flight to New Zealand (or must be excused or exempt)
  • Must wear a face covering while onboard a flight to New Zealand
  • Must comply with public health measures set out in the COVID-19 Protection Framework

Note: From 11:59pm 20 June 2022, Aircrew are no longer required to complete an Aircrew Traveller Declaration From or to undertake a pre-departure test when travelling to New Zealand by air.

Exemption for aircrew who test positive for COVID-19 while overseas in the course of their employment

From April 2022, COVID-positive New Zealand-Based Aircrew can fly into the country, in the following circumstances, and subject to the following conditions:

  • They must be employed as Aircrew
  • They are ordinarily resident in New Zealand
  • They have been overseas in the course of their employment as Aircrew; and
  • They are being returned to New Zealand by their employing airline in the course of their employment.

The following conditions must be met:

  • There will be no passengers on board the repatriation flight
  • That in relation to the other occupants of the aircraft, the Aircrew member will
    • Travel in a separate part of the cabin
    • Use separate toilet facilities
    • Not use the same galley or crew rest as another occupant.
  • The crew member will wear a N95 mask and shield throughout the flight:
  • Other crew members will wear equivalent PPE
  • There will be separate crew transport at each end of the flight.

The relevant Gazette notice can be found at COVID-19 Public Health Response (Exemption for Air Crew) Notice 2022 - 2022-go1310

 

Guidance for airports, airlines and workers at the air border to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection

The Ministry of Health has produced the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidance for air border workers, to reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19.

That IPC guidance can be found at Border, aviation and maritime sector.

Airlines’ responsibilities

Airlines, carriers and ground handlers should support Aircrew to comply with their legal obligations. Airlines should have in place a process to check and provide assurance of good compliance by Aircrew. This may include, but is not limited to, surveys, spot checks, and contact-tracing apps.

Airlines and carriers also have an obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure travellers on board meet the COVID-19 provisions required of them. If a traveller does not meet all the requirements, they should be declined boarding. Airlines and carriers can choose how they facilitate confirmation that the COVID-19 provisions have been met by travellers (i.e. paper-based, through electronic check-in or verbally).

Aircraft arriving in New Zealand that are not part of a scheduled international airline service are subject to additional requirements. Those carriers must not arrive in New Zealand unless the carrier provides a Customs declaration that it has taken reasonable steps to ensure travellers meet the COVID-19 provisions required of them. In addition, details about each person on board the flight must be provided to Customs. The declaration must be provided before the flight departs (if the aircraft carries a person on more than 1 connecting flight this must occur before the first flight), and the details must be provided at least 3 hours before the flight departs.

Airlines should report breaches to the Ministry of Health and to border agencies prior to entry into New Zealand, if known before arrival. Breaches can also be reported to the Ministry of Health on arrival into New Zealand. The Ministry of Health may undertake audits or spot checks to ensure the aircrew requirements are being adhered to.

Send report breaches to [email protected].

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