Air New Zealand advises that it continues to operate services to the Asian region although a softening of forward bookings for the Japan and Hong Kong routes has resulted in cancellation of some flights in May and June, as announced last week.
The airline receives regular updates on the incidence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and health management advice from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation, as well as other national health authorities, and will continue to monitor the travel situation based on this advice.Ê
In response to the Ministry of Health`s most recent travel advisory cautioning New Zealanders to “postpone non-essential travel”, Air New Zealand has released a policy to support customers who, due to current circumstances, decide to postpone travel to the affected countries.Ê This policy offers similar flexibility for customers, with regard to changed travel plans, as that released last month in response to the military conflict in the Middle East.
Customers who have purchased tickets for Air New Zealand services on or before 02 April 2003 and who wish to change their travel plans to/from or through the affected countries may postpone their travel or rebook to an alternative Air New Zealand destination (domestic or international) up to and including 31 July 2003.Ê
Customers will be supported to make one reservation change, and where the customer chooses to travel to an alternative Air New Zealand destination the customers will need to pay any additional fare, taxes and levy collections.
Air New Zealand` s customer support policy will be regularly reviewed to ensure it supports the current Ministry of Health travel advisory.
Meanwhile Air New Zealand has taken all steps to ensure that it follows the precautionary world wide directives outlined by the World Health Organisation in order to avoid further spread of SARS.
The current measures taken by Air New Zealand include:
* Questioning passengers checking-in at Asian ports to identify anyone who may be unwell or in previous contact with a person with SARS, and declining boarding if necessary; * Alerting cabin crew to the recommended management of passengers who become ill in-flight with SARS like symptoms; * Alerting pilots to the need to contact the appropriate authorities at the destination airport if a passenger is unwell on- board so that the appropriate medical follow up is instigated.
Air New Zealand is also closely monitoring staff based in Asia and crew who travel into the regions where the illness has been reported.Ê The company has accepted that some employees may choose not to undertake travel, in particular to Hong Kong, for personal reasons.
Air New Zealand will continue to monitor the situation and keep in close contact with the Ministry of Health over the matter.