Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says the airline refocused the international call centre team to focus on rebooking impacted customers which has helped clear the back log more quickly.
“The team have made great inroads working around the clock to rebook the 9,000 disrupted customers onto alternative travel. We have around 1,200 customers left to finalise travel for which is a great effort in a short time period.
“I want to say a massive thank you to our customers for their patience and acknowledge the huge amount of work our people and our travel agency partners have done to reaccomodate customers.
“We also know there will be some customers whose rebooked flight is further out then they would have hoped. Our next phase of recovery is to work through our schedule and see how we can get them home on earlier services, where possible.
“We’re pulling all available levers to get customers on services as soon as possible. This includes working with alliance partners for them to use larger aircraft where possible and reworking our schedule to see where extra capacity can be added.
“Our friends at Singapore Airlines have upgauged an 777-300 to an A380 adding around 200 seats for our customers needing to get into or out of Singapore tonight.
“We’ve added an additional service from Los Angeles departing this evening which will get nearly another 300 customers back to Aotearoa New Zealand on top of the extra Niue flight scheduled for 2 February. And, our New York service tonight will stopover in Fiji to collect another 111 passengers on the way through.”
The airline is also exploring the ability to add passengers to flights currently scheduled for cargo, and using larger aircraft within the Air New Zealand fleet – all opportunities to get people travelling as quickly as possible are being explored.
Many customers have taken up the offer of the accommodation goodwill payment of $250 per night and thousands more have used the flexibility options to put non-urgent flights into credit.
“We know this has been a distressing time for some customers, but rest assured we are using every available option to get them back into the skies and to their destination as quickly as we can.
“We’re grateful for the patience and support of our customers while we do everything we can to recover from this significant event, and I would like to acknowledge and thank our travel agent partners, alliance partners and our Air New Zealand teams across the globe – this is a shining example of what people can do when we all pull together.”
Through all of this we have maintained our international schedule every day since Sunday appreciating the airport did not open until 5am Sunday and many of the baggage systems are still inoperable which requires substantial manual handling.
The airline is keeping a close eye on the weather over the coming days and is working closely with Auckland Airport to mitigate any potential further flooding where possible.