A Kiwi who tried desperately to book a seat on a flight from the US for his one chance at work in recent months says he has missed the job because of the Government decision to curb international flights.
Despite being an essential worker, the 34-year-old Taranaki man was not able to take up a contract in his specialist oil and gas industry field because of Air New Zealand restricting inbound flights for most of July.
The man, who does not want to be named, said he had decided on his best travel option but a few hours later flights from Los Angeles to Auckland were mysteriously fully booked for weeks.
"We were looking at flights in the morning. Later when I went back to book there were no flights with available seats," said his American wife speaking to the Herald from North Carolina. Calls to Air New Zealand customer service left more questions than answers with the couple still waiting for a call back.
To make a connection with a ship passing through New Zealand the Kiwi had to be on a flight out of the US by July 6 at the latest.
The couple say the decision to curtail flights to New Zealand had proved costly.
"We both depend on his offshore job for our living," said his wife. "This job was going to be his entire income for the whole year. It's a pretty bad situation for us to be landed in."
The stranded worker said it was concerning he appeared to be in a stateless situation.
"For me it seems crazy they did it without warning. They must have known this was going to happen. And it's almost certainly a human rights issue. Surely everyone has the right to return to their own country."
He said the US was not as forgiving as New Zealand when it came to extending visas and he feared he would be deemed an overstayer when his limited visa expired.
He was also upset those wanting to get back to New Zealand were not given a heads-up about the restrictions.
Today the Government confirmed it had agreed to severe flight restrictions for the next three weeks for people wanting to return to New Zealand.
This morning Housing Minister and minister in charge of quarantine and isolation facilities Megan Woods said the Government and Air New Zealand had agreed to manage incoming bookings in the short term to avoid being overrun by Kiwis fleeing to a safe haven as the Covid-19 pandemic worsened overseas.
According to the Government's managed isolation and quarantine data, beds at facilities across New Zealand were expected to be around 100 short come next Monday.
This week there was an anticipated influx of 3480 travellers arriving at our shores. On Thursday alone 751 Kiwis were expected to arrive and on Saturday a further 724 people. At the same time 2212 people were due to leave facilities
By Monday, July 13 those needing to undergo the mandatory 14 days in isolation is expected to reach 6778. There are presently 6668 beds available at the hotel-turned-isolation facilities now operating in Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch.