Air New Zealand nearly sold more than 80,000 tickets than usual pre-Covid-19 yesterday, when more than 110,000 tickets snapped up.

The airline released 180,000 tickets on its cheapest fares after the Government removed physical distancing requirements - 160,000 for less than $50.

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said 70,000 were sold within the first six hours, showing Kiwis are keen to get out and travel around the country.

"From Tāmaki Makaurau – Tāhuna, Te Whanganui-a-Tara and Ōtautahi were hot destinations, and it's terrific to see customers snap up flights to Waihōpai, Whangārei and Kerikeri too," he said.


"There was also strong demand for bookings for travel out of Ōtautahi and Te Whanganui-a-Tara."

Masks are still required on flights, and crew members wear masks and gloves.

Air New Zealand lounges will continue to operate under alert level 2 restrictions, meaning each has a limit of 100 people at any given time.

The national airline is flying about 200,000 seats a week, which is around 70 to 75 per cent of pre-Covid-19 capacity.

Foran today told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking that Kiwis had been quick to book domestic holidays and trips after the Government yesterday eased physical distancing on planes and indicated most of New Zealand - aside from Auckland - could be in level 1 by Tuesday.

"They [travellers] are going all over the country - the load factors have been solid everywhere," Foran told Hosking.

"Not everyone is going to Queenstown... they're going to all kinds of places from Hokitika, to Invercargill, to Kerikeri, Gisborne, Napier. We're very pleased with this situation."

Most airlines tried to operate at 80 per cent capacity - operating at 50 per cent wasn't viable. "Once we can get this middle-seat open, which we have with people wearing masks, that's a big deal for us."