Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran says crew on international flights are unjustly being singled out as targets of fear about Covid-19 coming into the country.
In a message to staff he said the airline was working closely with the Ministry of Health to keep staff and the public safe.
"But I know this doesn't make it any easier. Upon returning home, our crew are often unjustly the focus of people's fear of another spike of Covid-19, and I know this is hard for them and their families," Foran said.
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Air New Zealand is operating a skeleton service between Los Angeles and Auckland and the Government this week tightened up on rules covering air crew as alarm over border bungles grew.
Foran said the reduction in flying hours had hurt crew financially and when they did fly "it's very different to what they are used to".
There were changes to service and procedures, as well as being confined to hotel rooms during the layover, which can sometimes be days.
When returning from the United States, which with high levels of community transmission is considered a high-risk area, there are also self-isolation requirements upon their return to New Zealand, which placed extra strain on crew and their families, he said.
"Please know that we stand with you and appreciate what you are doing to return people to their homes and get our economy moving again," Foran told staff.
He said there were encouraging signs of domestic network strength heading into the school holidays.
It would be operating around 65 per cent of our pre-Covid schedule, with destinations such as Nelson, Napier, Palmerston North and Tauranga proving particularly popular from Christchurch.
"Queenstown has been the real standout, though, with more bookings and capacity than this time last year."
Business travel, the most lucrative section of the market, was slower in coming back though.
This morning the airline's chief commercial officer Cam Wallace said progress towards a transtasman bubble was slower than expected but there were still hopes of starting links to individual Australian states and the Pacific Islands.
Wallace said there was no constraint from starting up quickly when any such routes were given the go-ahead, albeit that capacity would be limited at the start, Travelinc Memo reports.
"A few weeks ago we would have envisaged that we would be in the process of loading flights by now and looking at how the customer journey might look. But some cases, mainly in Victoria but also (at the border) here, have delayed that."
Wallace also outlined a three-tier response to credits, including ramping up its contact centre from 264 to a team of 700.
He said the airline was also working on an Airpoints solution - moving some credits to points and says an online solution is set to be launched on July 20, Travelinc reported.