The Prime Minister yesterday announced that everyone flying to New Zealand, including Kiwis, would be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in New Zealand.

There is, however, an important exception to this rule.

The Immigration New Zealand website explains that airline crew, cargo ship crew and cruise ship crew are all excluded from the self-isolation requirements.

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This is particularly important in respect of airline crew, who will be sharing flights and interacting with passengers who are obligated to go into self-isolation upon arriving in New Zealand.

A spokesperson for trade union E tū said steps are being taken to ensure airline crew remain safe.

"They are trained professionals and being advised on how to travel to and from a destination where incidents of Covid-19 have occurred," said E tū head of aviation Savage.

"We are currently in discussions with four airlines with international crew based in New Zealand to ensure health support and guidance is up to date for each destination."

Despite the exemption, there are still instances under which cabin crew could be required to go under self-isolation.

"If they are required to self-isolate because they have come into close contact with an infected person they will do so under the guidance of the Ministry of Health and their employers' medical teams," said Savage.

Self-isolation falls outside the normal leave provisions, which means that workers stand to endure that two-week period without pay.

"The scale of the changes yesterday may see airlines renegotiating financial pay-outs," Savage said.


"We will be engaged in multiple negotiations this week with employers across aviation about this and the much larger issue of airlines with planes on the ground."

Beyond the risk to wellbeing, Savage said another major concern to cabin crew was the slew of cancellations currently hitting the aviation industry.

"There will be many cabin crew on the ground without work and how manageable that is for the airline will depend on how well prepared they are and how big their cash reserves are," he said.

"The Government's response is vital as workers need pay to survive and the industry cannot afford to lose the skilled people they have as flights could resume again by the end of the month."