After 7 weeks of uncertainty and ‘hibernation’ Air Chathams is excited to slowly relaunch scheduled flights from its Auckland Airport base to Whakatane, Whanganui and the Kapiti Coast commencing 24th May.
Airline management have been working with the district councils to agree on a way forward that allows the airline which has suffered a 90% drop off in revenue during COVID-19 a lower risk way to reinstate flights while demand and confidence to travel by air returns to the domestic network.
Flights have not stopped between the Chatham Islands and its mainland NZ ports throughout Levels 4 & 3 because the island airlink was deemed an essential ‘lifeline’ service and funded through the Aviation Support Package.
Under Level 2 customers are once again able to book flights to the Chathams using the airline website and call centre.
Whilst following Ministry of Transport guidelines including Social Distancing on flights; Air Chathams has also implemented a strict Level 2 PPE & Hygiene Policy which includes an increased aircraft cleaning schedule and free of charge hygiene packs for all traveling passengers including a face mask to be worn on flights.
Air Chathams staff and the Emeny family that own the company have been overwhelmed by the messages of support throughout the COVID-19 lockdown. And are hoping that goodwill will in time result in more normalised travel patterns especially as we work towards a trans-Tasman bubble with Australia.
What can you expect during Level 2?
• Ensuring external information sources for our actions are authentic and valid via NZ Government, Ministry of Health; Trade and Travel advisory services including operating within the Civil Aviation Rules.
• Reducing the risk of infection for all our Passengers and subsequently to our Employees.
• Reducing the risk of infected or suspected infected persons entering our operational site or aircraft.
• Robust protocols and procedures to assist in the event of Contact Tracing
• Safe Operating Practices and Behaviours that ensure COVID-19 risks of infection remain low.
• COVID-19 PPE and Hygiene procedures being implemented for passengers and Air Chathams Employees.
To ensure that we keep YOU and our EMPLOYEES safe we have developed an extensive COVID-19 Operating Safely Plan. Our team have been preparing to welcome our wider Air Chathams family and friends back to our domestic skies to ensure connectivity with the regions we serve.
During Alert Level 3 we have remained busy and reviewed our existing controls to further improve on what we had established prior to lockdown.
One of these enhancements is that we have established further ‘On-board Mandatory Controls’ to help combat our united fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Air Chathams Mandatory Controls
Face Masks are to be worn while on-board
Hand Hygiene practices is a must
All passengers and Flight Attendants will be required to wear masks onboard Air Chathams Aircraft.
These will be provided free of charge to all passengers at check-in.
‘Antimicrobial Hand Wipe’ will be provided to all passengers for their own personal use in-flight.
In addition, hand sanitizer is available at check-in desks; and in all Air Chathams administrative areas
All Air Chathams office areas including aircraft fleet have enhanced and more regular cleaning programs in place.
When you first contact our committed and dedicated reservations team, you will be provided useful information on our Covid-19 PPE and Hygiene Policy.
We know it is an anxious time as a nation here in New Zealand as we move out of Level 3 and begin to spread our wings and gain a sense of normality.
Air Chathams reservations teams are here to help give you piece of mind and are only too happy to assist you with any concerns or queries that you may have in regard to our COVID-19 safe operating practices.
All our airport terminal and check-in Employees will continue to be thoroughly briefed on the latest travel and safety information to be able to assist passengers to determine their personal level of risk.
To ascertain your personal risk level, we may ask you the following questions when you check-in to any of our scheduled services:
1. If you have arrived into NZ within the past 14days?
2. Have you been in contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms?
3. Do you have any COVID-19 symptoms or are not feeling sick?
If you are not feeling well prior to check-in, we ask that you stay home and then contact our reservations team to discuss your reservation booking.
Once at the airport, we ask that all customers please ensure that they maintain a 2meter social distance between yourself and others including our ground handling Employees. We will be marking this out at check-in areas for safe queuing.
We would like you to be assured that during Level 2 operations all airport terminal counters, computers and work rooms are being sanitized at least once daily and between daily flight departures. Hand sanitizer will also be available at all check-in counters for customer use.
In addition to this, we are providing each passenger with their own complimentary face mask and an antimicrobial hand wipe to further keep you safe while flying on any Air Chathams scheduled service.
All our operational aircraft are cleaned twice daily during turnarounds with approved and recommended strength cleaning products for sanitization against COVID- 19. Areas that are cleaned regularly include tray tables, arm rests and seat arms, safety belt clasps, head rests, overhead locker surfaces, toilets, and aircraft galley surfaces.
We also have specialist cleaning packages on each aircraft including full face, body and hand protection in the event that someone displays symptoms of COVID-19 during flight.
Our aircraft have had their air filtration systems fully checked and maintained for optimum performance and we have enhanced our aircraft hygiene procedures.
We ask for your understanding that you help us to meet the mandatory requirements of our PPE and Hygiene procedure. This procedure mandates that all passengers; flight attendants and check-in ground employees must wear face masks on-board all our scheduled services.
4. Air Chathams Workers
All Air Chathams Employees and teams throughout the country will continue to be fully briefed on recommended safe practices and behaviours and specific COVID-19 procedures to assist in minimising the spread of COVID-19 throughout our operation.
All Employees will be practicing social distancing protocols including good hand hygiene habits and this message is reinforced through various awareness initiatives.
The Air Chathams family are dedicated to ensuring our workplace is free of COVID- 19 and are fully briefed about requirements to keep their personal ‘bubble’ limited as much as possible.
This allows us to ensure our ‘essential workers’ and ‘customer facing’ Employees limit the potential exposure to COVID-19. Our approach to our work ‘bubble’ is to operate in shift-based teams limiting the contact between departments as much as possible.
We are also promoting higher controls around the use of PPE to further protect you our customer and the wider Air Chathams family. So, please do not be alarmed if you see our Flight Attendants and Check-in Employees wearing face masks and disposable gloves while serving you.
We are doing this as a responsible airline and partner with many businesses and regional communities around New Zealand.