All domestic flights coming in and out of Tauranga and Rotorua Airports have been cancelled from today .

The move comes amid Air New Zealand's plans to restructure their domestic network in light of Covid-19 coronavirus.

In a media statement yesterday, Air New Zealand said they would only operate a "limited domestic schedule" between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch while the country was at alert level four of the nationwide Covid-19 emergency plan.

There would also be two flights per week between Christchurch and Dunedin, and a daily return schedule between Wellington and Nelson.


Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace said the airline would usually fly more than 400 domestic flights daily prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and while domestic travel was "still an option", it was now limited to essential services.

"We ask customers to please check they qualify to travel under the essential services list before booking a ticket or going to the airport," he said in the statement.

However, the airline would still operate "ad hoc" domestic charter flights at the Government's request, and these flights could be undertaken to any of the 20 domestic airports within New Zealand in a matter of hours, the statement said.

Tauranga Airport manager Ray Dumble said this was "a pretty fluid situation" and as such was unable to say how much of an effect there would be beyond "a 100 per cent shut down".

Air New Zealand is the only airline operating out of the airport, he said.

Tauranga Airport Manager Ray Dumble. Photo / File
Tauranga Airport Manager Ray Dumble. Photo / File

However, Rotorua Airport's chief executive Mark Gibb said while Air New Zealand flights had been cancelled, the airport was still operating.

The move from Air New Zealand had been "well-signalled" as they moved through level three into level four of the Covid-19 management plan, Gibb said.

"We've had a clear view that would be a significant contraction in the domestic networks," he said.


"It's not a surprise - we've been working with Air New Zealand in the knowledge that we're likely to hit this position."

Rotorua Airport chief executive Mark Gibb. Photo / File
Rotorua Airport chief executive Mark Gibb. Photo / File

Staff were still working, he said.

"Domestic travel is only one dimension of what we do ... we've still got medical flights that are running, charters and general aviation for essential operations."

The airport had also become a "lifeline utility" as part of alert level four, Gibb said.

"That means from a Civil Defence perspective we have a slightly broader role to fill, just in terms of facilitating those essential movements as required."

This meant they were now "on notice" to be running "24 hours a day, 7 days a week", Gibb said.

"As it sits at the moment, this schedule will apply until April 22," he said.

"As we track towards that date, we'll have an update from Air New Zealand and flex our structure accordingly to facilitate any new aircraft movements."