Air New Zealand will be dashing through the skies this Christmas as tens of thousands of customers travel on its peak busiest day.
Air New Zealand is expecting to fly 2.8 million customers around Aotearoa New Zealand and the world this summer as they make their way to their holiday destinations.
The airline is encouraging customers to plan ahead, add extra time, expect delays and be patient with airport staff and aircrew as sickness and shortages across the aviation industry coincide with what will be an extraordinarily busy time to fly.
The airline’s busiest day of the year will be 23 December with more than 55,000 customers heading away on their holiday break – up from 31,000 last year when international borders were closed. That’s a 77% increase in passenger numbers.
More than 50,000 customers are also expected fly on 15, 16, 22, 27 and 28 December.
Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says this will be the first summer in three years where the airline’s full network is operating, and airports will be busy.
“We’re excited to connect so many Kiwis with their loved ones this Christmas and we want to help customers prepare for their holiday travel.
“While it’s great to have more people travelling this year, it does come with some challenges. Flights will be packed, with lots of queues and extra baggage. As we prepare for a bumper summer, we’re pulling out all the stops to take the friction out – with new aircraft, hiring 2200 more people, 300 airport volunteers and contingency plans in place for disrupts.”
Even with the additional measures taken, the entire airport community will be under pressure.
“Airports, security screening and check in areas are going to be much busier than usual. We’re asking customers to allow additional time to get to and through the airport they are travelling from and to be as patient as possible as our staff who are working to get everyone to their holiday destination,” says Ms Geraghty.
Auckland to Christchurch will be the busiest route this Christmas and the airline is deploying its new A321neo aircraft to provide as many seats as possible for its customers.
Queenstown will be the busiest regional port with more than 6,000 people passing through the airport on 23 December.
The airline is asking customers to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their flight if travelling internationally, and at the very latest 60 minutes before their flight if travelling domestically. Travellers with pets, oversized bags, or requiring special assistance are asked to add a little more time to that.
Customers are also encouraged to take out travel insurance so they’re covered in any unexpected situation and to sign up to Air New Zealand’s
Travel Alerts service in case we need to make contact with them in the event of any travel disruption.