The first domestic flight for some New Zealanders who have recently returned from overseas carried 57 passengers to Wellington and Christchurch yesterday.
A total of 34 passengers went to Wellington and 23 went to Christchurch. All passengers have been in managed isolation in Auckland hotels since returning to New Zealand from other countries.
A condition of the flight was that all passengers were required to enter self-isolation once they got off the flight. Police will be checking on them and they risk quarantine if they are not abiding by strict isolation requirements.
Passengers underwent pre-flight health checks and only those fully fit and displaying no symptoms of illness were allowed to depart. Within the next few days, two to three flights a day will carry other returning New Zealanders who meet the full criteria for travel and self-isolation from managed isolation in Auckland to regional centres.
Moving the passengers was a large and complex task involving a multi-agency team from Defence, Customs, Aviation Security, Police, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Health, with help from Air New Zealand and Auckland Transport.
Thousands of New Zealanders have returned home from all around the world, with 1500 arriving each day last week. Most were able to return immediately to self-isolate in their homes.
Those arriving in New Zealand with no plan for self-isolation were placed in managed isolation and cannot use routine domestic flights or public transport to prevent possible virus transmission to other New Zealanders until a robust plan was developed.
Moving people in managed isolation required charter flights, setting up a secure corridor from their hotel to the airport, through the airport on to the aircraft, and safely through the airport on landing.
To qualify for chartered flights, people must be in managed self-isolation and must be able to get to their self-isolation location within five hours of arriving at a regional centre.