COVID-19: Aviation sector

Information and guidance for the aviation sector.

Last updated: 12 November 2020

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Air crew exemptions

Because of the importance of maintaining international air routes, New Zealand-based international air crew are mostly exempt from a 14 day isolation or quarantine period as long as they meet certain conditions – both in flight and during layovers.

The Minister of Health has agreed that this exemption to the Air Border Order now includes non-operating air crew returning to New Zealand on a flight after performing in-flight duties (repositioning crew). 

This exemption is available on the New Zealand Gazette website:


Clarification of “higher risk” routes

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border, Isolation and Quarantine, and Required Testing) Amendment Order provides a set of amendments to Orders in order to refine existing arrangements for preventing COVID-19 from entering New Zealand.  One of these includes defining additional measures (such as self-isolation for 48 hours) for air crew returning to New Zealand from defined ‘higher risk’ places overseas.  

The Order does not state which routes are deemed to be ‘higher risk’ – this is done by designation of the Director-General of Health. This means, in effect that no routes are initially deemed ‘higher risk’ unless the Director-General of Health determines, and subsequently has gazetted, listed routes deemed to be higher risk (in terms of having or spreading COVID-19).  

The Director-General has now designated Los Angeles and San Francisco as higher risk routes.  This designation is available on the New Zealand Gazette website.


Guidance for Air Crew to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection

New Zealand has had great success in reducing the prevalence of COVID-19 in our country and progressing towards elimination of this disease. Our border remains our most critical line of defence in maintaining these gains. Part of this defence is requiring all newly arrived travellers to undertake 14-days quarantine or isolation in managed facilities.

This is a summary of changes to the Public Health Response (Air Border and Isolation and Quarantine) Amendment Order (No 2) 2020, which introduces new legal requirements for New Zealand-based and overseas based air crew. The purpose of these changes are to prevent, and limit the risk of, the outbreak or spread of COVID-19. These guidance and factsheets have further information on those protocols.

Requirements for Air Crew who ordinarily reside in New Zealand

Because of the importance of maintaining international air routes, New Zealand-based international air crew are mostly exempt from a 14 day isolation or quarantine period as long as they meet certain conditions – both in flight and during layovers.

This guidance gives a summary of the requirements New Zealand-based air crew should meet on their international layover and when they return to New Zealand:

Requirements for overseas-based Air Crew

From 4 October 2020, overseas-based air crew are required to stay in a managed isolation facility and self-isolate for the duration of their layover while in New Zealand. Overseas-based air crew can leave the managed isolation facility prior to their departing flight from New Zealand.

This guidance gives a summary of what overseas-based air crew should do while on their layover in New Zealand, including travel to and from the airport:


Airlines’ responsibilities

New Zealand-based airlines and overseas-based airlines and ground handlers should support air crew 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 not be limited to surveys, spot checks, contact tracing apps.

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. Ministry of Health may undertake audits or spot checks to ensure the aircrew requirements are being adhered to.

Send report breaches to [email protected].

Aircrew who are not on the crew manifest for the plane arriving in New Zealand are not exempt from quarantine or isolation and will be managed the same as other travellers arriving into New Zealand.


Requirements for international aeromedical transfers involving New Zealand and overseas-based medical attendants

New Zealand-based medical attendants assisting with medical air transfers are exempt from undertaking 14-days quarantine or isolation on their return to New Zealand. As they are exempt, they should follow international medical transfer requirements to ensure the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is reduced and help keep our borders safe. New Zealand-based medical attendants follow the same guidelines as New Zealand-based air crew who undertake a high risk layover. On return to New Zealand, they must self-isolate, have a COVID-19 test on day two after their arrival into New Zealand, and continue to self-isolate until the result of that test has been returned.

Overseas-based medical attendants are required to enter a managed isolation facility for the duration of their layover in New Zealand, unless they remain airside.

See Medical transfer (road and air) for more information and guidance documents. 

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