COVID-19: Aviation sector

Information and guidance for the aviation sector.

Last updated: 10 May 2022

Updates to the Air Border Settings

On this page:


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 3) 2022.Key changes made by the Amendment Order are:

  • Require people travelling to New Zealand to have a traveller pass administered through the New Zealand Traveller Declaration System (NZTD), unless permitted by a notice from the Director-General of Health for an alternate traveller pass to be used (for aircrew, this is a completed Aircrew Traveller Declaration Form)
  • remove the requirements for arrivals from Ukraine to be vaccinated and to have a pre-departure test.
  • amend the list of countries where Quarantine Free Travel is available from.

Further guidance for airlines and carriers is available at COVID-19 transport information on the Ministry of Transport website.

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

Operating from certain Pacific countries (Quarantine-Free Travel pathway)

New Zealand citizens, residents and other eligible travellers under the current border settings can arrive at a specified airport in New Zealand by air from certain Pacific countries (Group 1 Countries) without the requirement to isolate or quarantine on arrival, subject to meeting certain requirements.

The requirements that these travellers must meet can be found at Travel to New Zealand on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

As at 11:59pm on 8 April 2022, the Group 1 countries eligible for Quarantine Free Travel are:

  • Nauru
  • Niue
  • Tokelau
  • Tuvalu

Operating from the rest of the world

Who can enter New Zealand under the current air border settings?

New Zealand citizens, residents, and other eligible travellers under the current border settings can arrive at a specified airport in New Zealand by air from any country, subject to meeting certain requirements.

Information about the current border settings: Reopening the New Zealand border | Immigration New Zealand

For a list of those who do not have to be vaccinated to travel to New Zealand: COVID-19: Vaccination exemptions for non-New Zealand citizens travelling to New Zealand

Requirements on entry

Most travellers arriving in New Zealand by air (apart from people arriving from all Pacific Quarantine-Free countries) are required to undertake a self-administered Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) within 24 hours after the traveller entered New Zealand and between 120 hours and 144 hours after that person entered New Zealand (being the 5th or 6th day).

The person must report a negative, positive or unconclusive result of a RAT to the Ministry of Health. If the person receives a positive result from a RAT, that person must report for and undergo a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test as soon as reasonably practicable after receiving the RAT result.

Information about travellers’ testing requirements: Testing requirements after arriving in New Zealand (covid19.govt.nz).

Guidance for aircrew arriving in New Zealand by air

Aircrew are treated separately under the Air Border Order and have their own arrival pathways, depending on whether they are New Zealand-Based or Overseas-Based Aircrew.

As a general rule, all aircrew members are free from any isolation or quarantine requirements on arrival in New Zealand by air, subject to meeting the legal requirements that apply to them. 

The following guidance has been developed to assist with determining if a person is a New Zealand-Based or Overseas-Based Aircrew member for the purpose of arriving in New Zealand by air. It also sets out the legal requirements that apply under the Air Border Order:

Only unvaccinated aircrew are required to enter a MIQ Facility. In addition, Overseas-Based Aircrew or the carrier for whom they work may request to enter a MIQ Facility for the duration of their stay in New Zealand.

Guidance for New Zealand-Based aircrew

A person is considered a New Zealand-based aircrew member for the purpose of arriving in New Zealand by air if they:

  • are ordinarily resident in New Zealand; and
  • arrive in New Zealand on an aircraft on which they are working as crew; for repositioning purposes; or for the purpose of returning to New Zealand after having left New Zealand to complete training, as directed by their employer, and that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or an equivalent international regulator requires aircrew members to complete.

New Zealand-based aircrew must comply with several requirements when travelling to New Zealand by air to be eligible for the no-isolation pathway. Generally, these are:

  • arrival in New Zealand must occur as soon as reasonably practicable after leaving New Zealand on a flight and since most recently leaving New Zealand on a flight, they have travelled by air to no more than 2 ports that are outside New Zealand (whether or not in the same country) and on no more than 1 return flight between those 2 ports.
  • meeting the vaccination requirement
  • meeting the pre-departure test requirement
  • completing an Aircrew Traveller Declaration Form before they enter New Zealand
  • hold a travel pass.

Download the Aircrew Traveller Declaration form: COVID-19 aircrew traveller declaration (PDF, 724 KB).
Failure to complete this declaration on arrival is an infringement offence under the Air Border Order. 

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 air crew
  • they are ordinarily resident in New Zealand
  • they have been overseas in the course of their employment as air crew; 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 air crew 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 here: COVID-19 Public Health Response (Exemption for Air Crew) Notice 2022 - 2022-go1310 - New Zealand Gazette

Guidance for Overseas-Based aircrew

A person is considered an Overseas-Based aircrew member for the purpose of arriving in New Zealand by air if they are not ordinarily resident in New Zealand and arrive on an aircraft on which they are working as crew or for repositioning purposes.

Overseas-Based aircrew are required to comply with several requirements when travelling to New Zealand by air to be eligible for the no-isolation pathway. Generally, these are:

  • they must be scheduled to depart from New Zealand as soon as reasonably practicable after they arrive (and complete any stand-down time required by the CAA or equivalent international regulator for safety and well-being purposes)
  • meeting the vaccination requirement
  • meeting the pre-departure test requirement
  • producing evidence of a negative pre-departure test (if requested)
  • completing an Aircrew Traveller Declaration Form before they enter into New Zealand
  • holding a travel pass.

Download the Aircrew Traveller Declaration form: COVID-19 aircrew traveller declaration (PDF, 724 KB).
Failure to complete this declaration on arrival is an infringement offence under the Air Border Order. 

Note: Overseas-Based aircrew may be authorised by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to enter a Managed Isolation or Quarantine facility at their own request and expense (or at the request and expense of the carrier for whom they work).

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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