Warning for Air NZ passengers as flights axed

Air New Zealand is axing several international flights over the holiday period. File photo
Air New Zealand is axing several international flights over the holiday period. File photo
Airline passengers are being warned to take every precaution ahead of the silly season, after Air New Zealand announced it was axing several international flights over the holiday period, affecting up to 14,000 people.

The national carrier said the changes were necessary due to the ongoing global problems affecting some Rolls-Royce engines on its Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

Air NZ has been struggling with issues related to the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines since it first secured lease aircraft capacity to help maintain its timetable, back in December 2017.

It's been a few days of chaos for the aviation industry, as Qantas diverted two flights due to a suspected engine malfunction, and Jetstar diverted 200-odd passengers to Christchurch after the flight missed Auckland Airport's 1.30am deadline by six minutes.

Passengers were trapped hours amid sweltering heat on the Ohakea military base at the weekend, as Wellington-bound Qantas flight QF171 was diverted due to a mechanical issue.

Eight hours later, the passengers finally reached their destination, with apologies from Qantas and gifted frequent-flyer points.

But mechanical issues struck the airline again on Monday morning, with a second flight being diverted to Auckland due to a suspected malfunction.

Jetstar passengers also faced drama when their flight was diverted at the last minute on Monday morning.

Missing Auckland Airport's 1.30am deadline by six minutes, the flight instead flew to land in Christchurch.

Air NZ announced its cancellation of numerous international flights the same day, saying as many as 14,000 travellers will be affected.

The carrier said it would be in touch with those impacted by the scheduling changes to organise alternative flights.

If flights were booked through a travel agent, the agent would be in touch, the airline said.

The suspension of the twice-weekly seasonal Christchurch-Perth service was the most significant change announced on Monday, cancelling a total of 62 flights.

The airline will also cancel its second daily Auckland-Perth service from December 10 until January 5 next year.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said if passengers affected by Air NZ's flight cancellations were unhappy with the alternative itinerary available to them, they would be able to claim a refund and compensation.

"The cancellation is within [the airline's] control, they've known about these engine issues for a while now," she said.

Chetwin said it was important to get in touch with the airline or your travel agent as soon as possible in an event like this.

She also offered some words of advice if a customer goes head-to-head with an airline.

"Don't back down," she said.

"You've booked these flights in good faith. These engine problems have been known for a while, you would expect that Air New Zealand would have this under control."

For those affected by diverted flights, such as the recent Qantas and Jetstar flights, the passengers may be able to claim compensation if it can be proven the fault was within the airline's control.

She also recommended travellers buy insurance outside of what the airline covers, to get better coverage.

House of Travel's commercial director, Brent Thomas, also said it was important for affected passengers to contact their travel agent or the airline as soon as possible.

"There's only going to be so many seats, and first in, best dressed," he said.

"You don't want to be the 14,000th customer to be sorted, because the choices [of flights] are going to get limited."

Events such as Air New Zealand's axing of dozens of flights can be very problematic, Thomas said.

"Availability of flights is tricky, and if you look at the Christchurch-Perth flight, people are going to have to have a layover somewhere, so it complicates it to say the least."

A travel tip he "couldn't stress enough" was to taking out travel insurance at the time of booking the flight.

"Once an event is known, you can't get travel insurance for that event," he said.

Add a Comment

Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter. For more than 158 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is more important now than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter