Christchurch airport open after earthquake: domestic flights only for now

By John Walton, February 23 2011
Christchurch airport open after earthquake: domestic flights only for now

Update: Last updated at 1221 Wednesday NZ time

Christchurch airport is open this morning, with domestic flights taking off and landing from 0800 New Zealand time. A further announcement about international flights has also been made.

The airport was open to defence and emergency flights overnight, with help flying in from Australia, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and the USA.

Australians in Christchurch are being advised by the Red Cross to head for the NZ capital, Wellington. Consular assistance from the Australian High Commission will be provided on the ground in Wellington. Any Australians needing assistance in Wellington can also call on our NZ-based journalist via our Twitter account @AusBT or via email at [email protected].

Getting to and from Christchurch

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand is flying two Boeing 747-400 jumbos and a 777 from Auckland to Christchurch on Wednesday, plus an A320 and 737 from Wellington, to help with relief efforts and to provide what Prime Minister John Key referred to as an "air bridge" out of the affected Canterbury region.

On these and all other domestic flights, Air New Zealand is offering emergency NZ$50 fares between Christchurch and any other New Zealand airport. This NZ emergency fare can be booked online or via the Air New Zealand call centre: 0800 737 000 or, from abroad, +64 9 357 3000.

The airline is also providing compassionate fares for "immediate family" to fly to Christchurch. We understand the airline's usual compassionate fare rules to be in place: check if your particular circumstances qualify.

Compassionate fares from Australia and the Pacific Islands have been set at NZ$50, the same as internal New Zealand fares. From long-haul international airports further abroad, the one-way fare is NZ$400. Compassionate fares must be booked through the Air New Zealand call centre: 0800 737 000 or, from abroad, +64 9 357 3000.

Many airlines have waived change fees on tickets to and from Christchurch, even for non-refundable fares. We've put together a full list of airline change fee policies for Christchurch passengers

Other NZ airport information

Airports across New Zealand continue to experience knock-on effects from the earthquake, with air traffic control facilities based in Christchurch. Delays and cancellations are widespread at Wellington and, to a lesser extent, Auckland airports.

Aftershocks of magnitude 4 and above have continued throughout the night, with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management reporting "26 aftershocks greater than magnitude 4, with four greater than magnitude 5" as of 0750 Wednesday morning NZ time.

Getting in touch with people in NZ

Australians, New Zealanders overseas or anyone abroad concerned about friends and family can contract the new Red Cross person enquiry line. From outside New Zealand the number is: +64 7 850 2199.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also has a hotline for people concerned about Australians in the Christchurch and Canterbury regions: freephone 1300 555 135 from within Australia, or +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas.

Further updates

Read more comprehensive coverage of the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, plus authoritative advice for travellers in the area and overseas.

Further updates will be posted at and on our @AusBT Twitter stream.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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