Repatriation flights for Kiwis stranded in Sydney have sold out, but more seats will become available as more spaces in managed isolation (MIQ) are added for those travelling from New South Wales.
Stranded travellers can also apply for a flight home on compassionate grounds.
Bookings for Air New Zealand's managed flights from Sydney to Auckland and Christchurch opened at 10am on Monday morning and sold out within 15 minutes.
"As more MIQ allocations are provided, more corresponding seats will be made available for booking, so we encourage customers to keep checking back," an airline spokesperson said.
Passengers on the managed flights from July 13 to July 23 will go into MIQ so numbers are limited by the number of rooms available.
Flights were offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and about 20 per cent of MIQ spots were reserved for those granted tickets on compassionate grounds.
The Government has set up a call centre for travellers with "an urgent or exceptional need" to return to New Zealand. To be eligible to travel on compassionate grounds, a traveller must meet one of the following criteria:
There is a serious risk to health or safety which requires urgent travel to New Zealand.Urgent travel is required for the care and protection of a child.Urgent travel is required to provide critical care to a dependent in New Zealand.The applicant has a serious medical condition that requires treatment or support in New Zealand.The applicant will suffer "significant financial hardship" if they are unable to return to New Zealand.Other compassionate considerations, such as visiting close relatives with a critical medical condition.
To apply for compassionate consideration, people are advised to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on +64 4 439 8235 or NSW2NZ@mfat.govt.nz.
About 1000 rooms will be made available for Kiwis returning from New South Wales over the next fortnight. The Government is working on a plan to make more rooms available after the initial two-week emergency allocation.
As more MIQ spaces become available, more seats on managed flights will be added.
Qantas will reach out to customers with existing books from Sydney to New Zealand.
Those who can safely stay in New South Wales are encouraged to wait, so those with the most urgent need to travel are able to get home first.
Air New Zealand recommends customers visit the Travel Alerts page before getting in touch, as it is experiencing a high volume of calls and messages.
"We recognise this is a very stressful and emotional time for those customers wishing to return from NSW, and we're doing everything we can to get them home as quickly and as safely as possible," Geraghty said.
Air New Zealand's managed flight schedule:
- July 13: Flight NZ0864 to Auckland at 2:25pm
- July 13: Flight NZ0870 to Christchurch at 11:55am
- July 14: NZ0864 to Auckland at 12.25pm
- July 15: NZ0864 to Auckland at 2.55pm
- July 16: NZ0864 to Auckland at 12:40pm
- July 17: NZ0864 to Auckland at 2:25pm
- July 18: NZ0864 to Auckland at 12:25pm
- July 20: NZ0864 to Auckland at 2:25pm
- July 23: NZ0870 to Christchurch at 11:55am