International flights in and out of Auckland Airport have resumed following the city’s deluge on Friday that severely impacted the airport’s services.
A Jetstar flight to Sydney departed before 7am in what was the first international passenger flight from Auckland since the storm forced a temporary closure.
An Air New Zealand flight from Los Angeles shortly after was the first arriving international flight with 355 passengers on board.
It comes alongside an almost 600 per cent increase in calls to Air New Zealand’s call centre compared to the same day last week as people rush to arrange flights.
According to a statement from Auckland Airport, there were more than 1000 travellers waiting at the international terminal and it would “take some time” before flight schedules normalised.
A total of 82 international flights would depart from or arrive at Auckland Airport today.
It’s understood there was no current disruption to domestic flights.
”Alongside the safety and welfare of people, our goal throughout has been to get travellers reconnected and help them get where they need to be,” Auckland Airport chief executive Carrie Hurihanganui said.
“The team at Auckland Airport is so pleased to see people at the terminal starting to get on their way again today and put what has been a really challenging experience behind them.”
She asked for “patience and understanding” from travellers as international travel was restarted amid “airport processes” taking longer than normal.
“With the disruption to flight schedules, it may also take airlines several days to rebook passengers.
“Anyone travelling in the next few days who has questions about the impact to their travel plans should talk to their airline or travel agent.”
Air New Zealand chief operational integrity and safety officer Captain David Morgan said the airline’s international flights were expected to resume from midday today.
“As the airline works to process the backlog of customers and flights, the priority is to get customers who have been disrupted since the closure of the airport on flights as soon as we can,” he said.
“We know it hasn’t been an easy process for customers with long wait times through to our call centre, but our team are doing their best. Yesterday we had over 31,500 calls, compared to 4600 on Saturday last week.”
The time Air New Zealand customers had to rebook their cancelled international flight had been doubled to 20 days due to the limited capacity currently available.
Air New Zealand would have 13 departing flights and 15 arriving at Auckland International Airport across today.
At this stage, the airline will have 13 flights departing and 15 flights arriving at Auckland International Airport across the day.
“Our teams have worked throughout the night to access and fix the equipment required to check customers in,” Morgan said.
“Kiosks are in good shape; however, we still have significant damage to our baggage drop areas. We will be implementing a more manual process, which will take longer than usual.”
Only passengers with an international flight booked and scheduled were advised to come to the terminal. For those unsure, it was recommended they contact their airline for confirmation.
Hurihanganui acknowledged the more than 100 airport staffers who had assisted travellers following the storm, despite facing their challenges.
According to the statement, more than 1000 hot meals, 500 blankets, thousands of water bottles and fruit were provided to stranded travellers, some of whom were welcomed on to the airport’s marae - Te Manukanuka o Hoturoa- where they slept overnight.
“Kaumatua, members of the Auckland Airport team and the Auckland Red Cross stayed overnight with travellers, and from what I hear from our people, many of those visitors were incredibly touched by what was a unique and special experience for them sleeping in the wharenui,” Hurihanganui said.