The government has agreed with Air New Zealand to charter an aircraft to assist New Zealanders leaving Wuhan, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced.
The aircraft will have capacity for around 300 passengers and will fly from Wuhan to New Zealand. Officials will be working through operational requirements with Air New Zealand and Chinese authorities.
New Zealanders in the Hubei region who are registered on Safetravel have been emailed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to register interest in the flight, which is subject to Chinese Government approval.
“We are pleased to have been able to office this assistance to New Zealanders in a challenging situation,” says Winston.
“We encourage all New Zealanders in the Hubei region to register on Safetravel and ensure all their details are accurate and up to date. This will give us a better understanding of the level of demand for this flight.
“New Zealand will be offering any additional seats to Pacific Island and Australian citizens as a matter of priority.
“This is a complex operation as we work through all the necessary requirements but we are working to have the aircraft depart as soon as possible.”
Consular teams will be working with health officials to ensure that the risks of transmission of the Coronavirus to New Zealand are carefully managed throughout the evacuation process.
Officials are currently developing procedures for: pre-departure health screening of passengers, infection control inflight, and isolation of all passengers arriving in New Zealand for up to two weeks.
Those who do take a seat on the plane will be required to pay a nominal fee, however the government will absorb most of the cost of the charter flight.
“The New Zealand Government would like to thank Air New Zealand for its support in assisting to bring New Zealanders home,” says Winston.