Coronavirus and international travel: Thousands of New Zealanders flying out of NZ each week

Although the Government has advised against it, thousands of Kiwis are flying out of New Zealand weekly.

Stringent border measures are limiting who can enter the country during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the only physical deterrent stopping people from leaving is fewer departing flights.

The advice from the Government has remained consistent throughout the pandemic, despite other parts of the world inviting New Zealanders to travel. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade directed Stuff to an advisory on its SafeTravel website that indicates Kiwis should not travel abroad at this time.

"We currently advise that all New Zealanders do not travel overseas at this time due to the outbreak of Covid-19, associated health risks and widespread travel restrictions," information on its website read.

"Our 'Do not travel' advisory applies to all overseas destinations."

It cited the complex and rapidly changing situation around the world as one of the reasons, and warned countries that have opened borders to tourists could see an increase in Covid-19 cases and result in heightened risk to travel.

Returning home may also be an issue, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hinting at potential co-payment schemes for holidaying Kiwis entering into managed isolation and quarantine facilities on return.

A decision is yet to be made on this front, however, Cabinet is mulling over a $3000 charge for the 14-day stay. A decision is expected on Wednesday.

Between July 1 and July 27, 16,688 travellers departed New Zealand, according to data from New Zealand Customs Service displayed by Stats NZ. The majority of these – 79.4 per cent – weren't New Zealand passport holders.


Of the 16,000-odd travellers, 4308 departed within the last week (from July 21 to July 27). This figure is significantly less than the same week in 2019, where there were 139,624 departures.

Pre-Covid, 25 international airlines were flying out of New Zealand. Qantas is among the airlines that stopped operating out of New Zealand during the pandemic and are yet to resume.

Only a handful of airlines are operating regular outbound services and slowly growing capacity.

Air New Zealand is operating regular flights to Sydney, Brisbane, Los Angeles and Singapore. Lufthansa and Swiss Air are flying from Auckland to Singapore, and Latam Airlines and Etihad are flying to Shanghai from Auckland.

Emirates are operating three outbound services a week to Dubai, and Singapore Airlines is still regularly flying from Auckland and Christchurch to Singapore – this was the flight the confirmed Covid-19 case identified in South Korea travelled on.

A spokesperson from Singapore Airlines confirmed demand for flights out of New Zealand has been strong since restrictions began easing in June.

An Emirates spokesperson told Stuff routes and flight frequency were dependent on government approval, easing travel restrictions, and passenger demand.

"We will always put as our top priority the health and safety of our customers, our crew and the communities we serve."

They noted demand is expected to recover slowly.

Korean Air is set to resume its Auckland to Incheon, South Korea, routes in August. There are two inbound services scheduled for August 11 and August 25 and two outbound services on August 13 and August 27.


See also: Others can, so why can't Australians travel overseas?

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