With fewer Air New Zealand staff on rota, passengers of domestic flights have had to endure long lines at the bag drop area at the Auckland Airport. The reason? More crew members had to call in sick early this week.
Videos of the situation surfaced in multiple platforms online showing anxious passengers almost at a standstill, unsure whether they could get moving on time.
New Zealand's flagship carrier earlier released a statement about several adjustments that it would have to take over the next months, including reducing the schedule to 1.5% fewer seats because of the high rates of sickness among crew.
While the airline didn't mention which illness had afflicted its workforce, it had been ramping up the company's operations "at a time when Covid and the flu continue to impact the aviation industry," it said.
"While we did factor sickness into our ramp-up plan, we've seen the highest rates of crew sickness in over a decade. We see these challenges continuing not just for the crew, but for our whole operation, and so we're making proactive changes to address them," Air NZ added.
Despite the delays and bottlenecks, Air NZ General Manager Tessa Auelua said airport teams have made sure passengers would reach their flights on time by prioritising the bags of passengers who are departing first according to flight schedules.
Flight changes started to take effect on 11 August.
Air NZ Chief Executive Greg Foran said the company is exploring the option to lease a crewed passenger aircraft to meet the demands of the busy summer period.