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A year not so much in the air

While it was a year not so much in the air, there were no days in 2020 without an Air New Zealand flight taking to the skies.

Air New Zealand reflects on some of the numbers from a most extraordinary 2020.

During New Zealand’s Alert Level 4 lockdown, 67 of the airline’s aircraft were grounded, and by the end of 2020, the 15 strong Boeing 777 fleet had been sent to long term storage facilities in Auckland, Roswell, New Mexico and Victorville, California.

The Air New Zealand Contact Centre recorded its busiest day on March 15. This followed the New Zealand Government announcement on March 14 that everyone entering New Zealand, except from the Pacific, would be required to self-isolate for 14 days. On top of email and chat options, calls from customers topped 75,000 compared to 9900 calls received on the busiest day in 2019.

As borders around the world began to close, Air New Zealanders worked hard to keep flights going to bring almost 60,000 Kiwis home that had started a return international journey before New Zealand’s Alert Level 4 lock down began.

COVID-19 travel restrictions meant many passengers became stranded and Air New Zealand assisted governments around the world to repatriate them home. The airline operated 29 special flights to bring Kiwis home from Wuhan, Mumbai and Delhi (all destinations a first for the airline) as well as to help get foreign nationals to Germany, the Netherlands, Korea, Samoa and Tonga.

With borders closed and international passenger demand being almost non-existent, it comes as no surprise that the number of international flights dropped from over 30,000 in 2019 to under 10,000 in 2020. Despite a strong domestic recovery, the passengers carried by the airline overall dropped from 17.6 million in 2019 to 8.4 million in 2020.

While international passenger flights were significantly scaled back, Air New Zealand’s Cargo team stepped up to help our export community maintain international trade links, operating 3,306 flights carrying cargo with the support of the Government’s International Air Freight Capacity Scheme.

More than ten million items of PPE were brought into the country by Air New Zealand in 2020 to help New Zealand stamp out COVID-19. While New Zealanders were reminded to wash their hands, Air New Zealand’s cleaning teams were hard at work – with over 45,000 litres of cleaning disinfectant being used on its aircraft in 2020.

With international travel off the cards, Kiwis keen to explore their own backyard and reconnect with loved ones snapped up over three million seats for under $100. DIY was also big on the agenda for Air New Zealand’s Airpoints members in 2020, with almost 19,000 Mitre 10 gift cards redeemed using Airpoints Dollars.

During the course of 2020 Air New Zealand donated more than one million items to 33 organisations and charities around the country. This included 190,000 Cookie Time cookies, almost 9500 bedding items, around 9600 inflight goods (amenity kits, crockery and kids’ inflight packs) and close to 800,000 dry goods (muesli, crackers and fudge).

Last year Air New Zealand also launched its Carepoints initiative, which saw the airline’s customers donate nearly 250,000 Airpoints Dollars to KidsCan, Women’s Refuge and New Zealand Red Cross.

Despite lockdowns, Air New Zealand still helped to transport 508 precious threatened wildlife and 60 conservation dogs across Aotearoa, as well as establish an additional 5000 hectares of sustained pest control areas on New Zealand’s Great Walks through its partnership with the Department of Conservation, bringing the total area controlled to 43,247 hectares.

Air New Zealand’s chief executive officer Greg Foran says even though it was a year like no other for the airline industry, he is still incredibly proud of the Air New Zealand team.

"What Air New Zealanders managed to achieve in such a dynamic environment and up against so many challenges is just phenomenal.

"Returning to usual levels of air travel will be complex, but we are working closely with government agencies on preparations for safe travel.

"In the meantime, we are using this time to ensure the Air New Zealand that emerges from COVID-19 is stronger than ever before and will continue to enrich the country, connecting New Zealanders with each other and New Zealand with the world."

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