COVID-19: Aviation sector

Information and guidance for the aviation sector.

Last updated: 9 March 2021

Updates to the Air and Isolation and Quarantine Border Orders

With effect from 20 December 2020, the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border and Isolation and Quarantine) Amendment Order (No 2) 2020 gave effect to the following changes:

  • an amendment to the definition of ‘aircrew’ to include some repositioning aircrew;
  • exclusion from managed isolation for a few more classes of people, where the health risk is deemed very low;
  • amendments to the restrictions for New Zealand-based aircrew operating international flights
  • other minor technical changes;

The following links take you to the updated Orders:

On this page:


Required COVID-19 testing for aircrew and airport workers

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020 requires routine testing of specified aviation workers for COVID-19.

You are required to continue testing once every 7 days if you are:

  • Aircrew members

You are required to continue testing once every 14 days if you are:

  • Persons who spend more than 15 minutes in enclosed spaces on board aircraft that arrives from location outside New Zealand
  • Airside government officials including (without limitation) personnel from Immigration New Zealand, New Zealand Customs Service, Aviation Security Service, or Ministry for Primary Industry
  • Airside district health board workers
  • Airside retail, food, and beverage workers
  • Airside workers handling baggage trolleys used by international arriving or international transiting passengers
  • Airside airline workers who interact with passengers
  • Airside airport workers who interact with passengers
  • Airside cleaning workers
  • All landside workers who interact with international arriving or international transiting passengers

Workers can be exempt if an aircraft has not arrived at the affected airport from a location outside New Zealand for a period of at least 14 consecutive days. 


Aircrew exemptions

The Minister has agreed to an exemption from the Air Border Order for aircrew who are ordinarily resident in New Zealand and are subject to clause 24 of the Order (being outside of New Zealand for a continuous period of at least seven days or had travelled domestically outside New Zealand within the seven days immediately before arrival in New Zealand) 

A copy of this exemption is available on the New Zealand Gazette website.

A risk assessment and determination required by the conditions of the exemption has been carried out for Australia and has determined that no isolation or quarantine period is required for aircrew subject to this exemption on return to New Zealand from Australia.

Risk assessments and determinations for other destinations have not been carried out. Please contact the Border Operations team [email protected] for more information. 


Clarification of ‘higher risk’ routes

Clause 9 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border) Order (No 2) 2020 provides that the Director General may designate a route of travel between a place outside New Zealand and another place (in or outside New Zealand) as a higher-risk route. If a route of travel is designated as a higher-risk routes, then aircrew who return from flying these routes must self-isolate in accordance with Part 1A of the Isolation and Quarantine Order.

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


Guidance for aircrew to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection

Requirements for aircrew who are ordinarily resident in New Zealand

Because of the importance of maintaining international air routes, New Zealand-based international aircrew 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 has been updated to reflect changes brought in by the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border and Isolation and Quarantine) Amendment Order (No 2) 2020. It gives a summary of the requirements New Zealand-based aircrew should meet on their international layover and when they return to New Zealand:

Guidelines for Air New Zealand staff staying in self-isolation hotel 

Under an agreement between Air New Zealand and the New Zealand Government, all Air New Zealand aircrew returning to New Zealand after flying on higher-risk routes (currently these are New Zealand to Los Angeles and New Zealand to San Francisco) will self-isolate in a prearranged hotel for 48 hours. The guidelines below provide more information on this.

Requirements for overseas-based aircrew

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

This guidance gives a summary of what overseas-based aircrew 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 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 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.

Face masks on international flights into New Zealand

Medical grade masks (not cloth masks) need to be available for all passengers on international flights 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 aircrew 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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