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HomeGeneral TourismAir NZ runs dedicated repatriation flights to Samoa for fruit industry workers

Air NZ runs dedicated repatriation flights to Samoa for fruit industry workers

With New Zealand’s fruit picking season coming to an end, the first of two dedicated Air New Zealand repatriation flights to return Recognised Seasonal Employees home to Samoa took off from Auckland International Airport on Friday.

Flight NZ990, operated by a 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, departed just before 9am on Friday and was expected to touch down in Apia around 1.40pm local time, carrying 300 seasonal workers from Hawke’s Bay, Blenheim, Gisborne, Martinborough and the Bay of Plenty.

The airline has been working closely with New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc, the largest employer of Samoan seasonal workers in the country, which has been coordinating the return of workers employed by several orchards across New Zealand.

There are more than 2000 Samoan workers in New Zealand who carry out valuable work during the country’s fruit picking season. Air New Zealand received approval from the Samoan Government to operate today’s flight, and another on Friday, July 31, which will carry only seasonal workers. These services are in addition to the fortnightly repatriation flights the airline has been operating between Auckland and Apia since May 29.

Air New Zealand’s country manager Samoa Karen Gatt says the airline is pleased to support New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc with the repatriation of Samoan seasonal workers with assistance from the Samoan and New Zealand governments.

"We’re happy to play a part in returning workers home to Samoa via these two dedicated services between Auckland and Apia. We will also continue to offer seats to seasonal workers on our fortnightly scheduled repatriation flights which are currently approved to operate to the end of September."

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc trade strategy and policy manager Gary Jones says the relationship between Samoa and the New Zealand pipfruit industry is deep and personal.

"We are family, and when regional leaders in Samoa asked our industry and the Samoan Government to bring seasonal workers home safely, we responded immediately. We’re working closely with Recognised Seasonal Employers across New Zealand and Air New Zealand to ensure their workers from across New Zealand are able to get home."

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