Air New Zealand scraps controversial “no jab, no fly” rule

The Kiwi carrier says the decision represents another step “back towards a sense of normality.”

By David Flynn, April 13 2022
Air New Zealand scraps controversial “no jab, no fly” rule

Just three months after making vaccination a mandatory requirement for all international passengers, Air New Zealand will drop the controversial measure in what CEO Greg Foran hails as “moving back towards a sense of normality.”

The Star Alliance member joined Qantas in declaring it would embrace a “no jab, no fly” policy in late 2021, although the rule didn’t take come into effect until 1 February 2022.

At the time, Foran described said being vaccinated was “the new reality of international travel,” adding “we’ve been hearing from both customers and employees that this measure is important to them.”

“Mandating vaccination on our international flights will give both customers and employees the peace of mind that everyone onboard meets the same health requirements as they do.”

But that was then, and with countries reopening and international travel on the upswing, Foran today announced the end of compulsory vaccination for international customers as of 1 May 2022.

“We’re aware that Covid is not behind us yet and we have taken a considered approach and will continue to revise safety measures depending on what we’re seeing here in New Zealand and around the world.”

In addition, from 14 April, the airline’s domestic travellers will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test ahead of their flights.

However, masks will still be required onboard on all Air New Zealand flights.

Foran’s announcement came as New Zealand welcomed back Australian travellers in the first step of a staged border reopening.

Travellers from other visa-waiver countries including the United Kingdom and USA will be allowed to arrive under the same quarantine-free conditions from May 2, the day after the airline’s vaccination mandate ends.

Air New Zealand will follow through with the launch of non-stop flights between Auckland and New York from September 17 – one of the world’s longest scheduled passenger flights – with the return of direct flights to Chicago and Houston slated by the end of 2022. 

All three flights could feature the airline’s new Business Premier class, which will include an upmarket Row 1 experience sold as Business Premier Luxe, with more space and more privacy compared to the rest of the premium cabin.

Leaked photos of the long-awaited replacement for AirNZ’s circa-2005 angled sleeper pods show the more conventional arrangement of generally forward-facing seats will be crowned by four suites with sliding doors.