Covid 19 Delta outbreak, Omicron threat: Air New Zealand suspends in-flight food and drinks

Air New Zealand will stop serving food and drink to passengers during domestic flights because of the threat of Omicron being spread while in the air.

Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty says the health and safety of customers and crew is paramount so from tomorrow flight crew would be providing the traditional onboard snack when people left the aircraft rather than during the flight.

“We know customers look forward to their cookie, popcorn or bliss bites, so rather than pause food and beverage service, we have made the decision to offer our popular snacks to our customers to enjoy when they arrive at their destination,” Geraghty said.

“It’s anticipated that we will soon see the Omicron variant within the New Zealand community, so we are making this change now to further safeguard our customers and crew.”

Masks would continue to be mandatory for all customers onboard and must be worn throughout the duration of the flight.

“Masks are one of the key ways to limit transmission, so making this change will enable our customers’ masks to be kept on throughout the flight and ensure they are as safe as possible while onboard an Air New Zealand aircraft,” Geraghty said.

This change was temporary and would be reviewed on a regular basis and updated accordingly.

Water would still be available upon request, she said.

The strict new orders come after an Air New Zealand crew member tested positive with the Omicron variant this week after travelling between Australia and New Zealand on Christmas Eve.

The crew member, the second person to test positive for Omicron this week who had been in the community, is now in a managed isolation and quarantine facility. Their eight close contacts have so far returned negative tests.

The airline’s chief medical officer Dr Ben Johnston said the employee was fully vaccinated and tested positive on December 27 as part of regular surveillance testing.

“Their last duty was flight NZ752 which arrived in Auckland from Sydney on December 24.

“The aircrew member is now isolating in MIQ following advice from the Ministry of Health.

“All of the other aircrew who are close contacts have been advised and are isolating and being tested according to the Ministry of Health’s requirements,” Johnston said.

There were significant precautions in place for crew operating to international destinations set out by the Ministry of Health, and the airline was confident its people followed protocols diligently, Johnston said.

“These include wearing PPE through the airport and on board. On duties across the Tasman, aircrew remains airside and operate back to New Zealand on the return flight. Aircrew is also subject to regular surveillance testing where they are tested up to once every seven days.”

Health officials say there are no locations of interest associated with the case and the risk to the public has been determined to be low.

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