Covid-19: Questions remain over Air NZ's domestic vaccination policy

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Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran says the airline's Covid-19 policy change is about reducing the spread of the virus.

Air New Zealand may need to adjust its new domestic travel vaccination policy due to the Government’s proof of vaccine tool not currently being made available to people under 16 years old.

Air NZ says to board a domestic flight fully vaccinated passengers over the age of 12 will need to show their vaccination status using the Government’s My Vaccine Pass, which will link in with a traveller’s Air New Zealand app and boarding pass.

However, the Ministry of Health’s website says My Covid Record, which will be needed to get My Vaccine Pass, is not currently available to those aged 12 to 15.

“If you’re aged 12 to 15 and require proof of vaccination (for example, for overseas travel) you can request a confirmation letter,” the website says.

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Greg Foran said he was not aware that was the case.

"If we find that to be the case then we will adjust accordingly," Foran said.

Air New Zealand will require passengers who aren’t fully vaccinated to have a negative pre-departure test in order to fly domestically.
JOHN ANTHONY/Stuff
Air New Zealand will require passengers who aren’t fully vaccinated to have a negative pre-departure test in order to fly domestically.

Air New Zealand also said, from mid-December, passengers who were not fully vaccinated would need to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours before departure “from either free community testing or their GP”.

However, it is not clear whether Covid-19 pre-departure tests will be available for free from community testing stations.

The Government’s Covid-19 website says for international arrivals from Australia tests from free community testing stations may not be acceptable for travel clearance.

An Air New Zealand spokesman reaffirmed that customers who were unable to show proof of vaccine would be able to head to a community testing clinic to receive a free Covid-19 test.

“This isn’t new and is accessible to all New Zealanders. Free community testing is available near all the airports we fly from, so customers should visit covid19.govt.nz to find their nearest option,” the spokesman said.

“Customers can also contact their GP or a government approved private testing provider.”

The Ministry of Health has been approached for comment about whether unvaccinated travellers will be able to get free Covid-19 tests from community testing centres.

Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners medical director Dr Bryan Betty says a pre-departure test will cost upwards of $200.
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Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners medical director Dr Bryan Betty says a pre-departure test will cost upwards of $200.

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners medical director Bryan Betty said most GP surgeries were offering testing, but it was free only if it met certain criteria set by the Government, for example if there was a request made for port workers to get tested.

For international pre-departure tests patients had to pay, he said.

If the Government said it would pay for pre-departure tests for domestic travel then the patient would not have to pay, he said.

But he suspected the Government would not fund tests for travel.

“The simplest way through this if for patients to get vaccinated. It’s the right thing to do”

Most GPs would be comfortable undertaking a pre-departure test, he said.

There was a big variation in cost across the country but in the main centres the average fee for a test would be between $40 to $60, then a lab separately charges to process the test which was usually an additional $150 to $180, he said.