An expat Kiwi who flew to New Zealand from Australia to be at the bedside of a critically ill relative is now stranded here after he was bumped off a return flight at the last minute.

"I'm supposed to be in Oz now," Richard Leef told the Herald from Christchurch today.

Instead the west Sydney resident faces a long 12-day wait to get back to his adopted home where he lives working as a logistics warehouse operator and caring for his granddaughter.

Like the New Zealand Government's latest move to freeze flights, those travelling into Australia also face similar restrictions so health authorities can manage the flow of new arrivals needing to undergo quarantine. Flights into Melbourne have already been put on ice for a fortnight and now just 50 New Zealanders a day are allowed into Sydney. The cap came into effect on July 4.


While Leef understands the need to control of the number of people arriving on either side of the Tasman, he's far from happy with the way Air New Zealand is dealing with customers.

After rushing here in May for the family health emergency to be with his relative in ICU, Leef is struggling to understand why customers are being told their flights are going ahead as booked, only to discover at the last minute they are cancelled.

He says the national carrier needed to tell customers early on if they were on slashed passenger lists.

When he checked by phone if he would be on his 6am flight to Sydney today, and being told to check in at 4.45am, it wasn't until he noticed an email before he left home that mentioned the flight was not going ahead.

After calling to check the email was valid, Leef said he was initially told a connecting flight had been hit by a mechanical problem before another person told him the Sydney-bound flight was cancelled.

When he had posted about the problem on social media Leef said many other flyers had similar experiences and were annoyed by their treatment. They said generic emails from the carrier that told them nothing did not cut it.

"Look I'm not angry about the limited people being allowed back into Australia, but I am hacked off with the way Air New Zealand are going about it."

"I was told there was a technical problem with the plane but then found out it was actually cancelled. They should have said that from the outset."


In the meantime the logistics worker is stuck here until July 19 and running low on money. While his relative has recovered and out of hospital Leef is worried about his job and family in Australia.

"I've got rent and bills to pay but haven't been in work. It's going to be another month before I get back to work after I've gone through quarantine again. I mean it's nice here but it's been long enough."

Air New Zealand last night confirmed they were forced to reduce the number of passengers travelling into Sydney to comply with a strict 450 daily entry quota of international arrivals. It included an allocation for 50 Kiwis each day.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there was now pressure on Sydney's quarantine facilities and measures were needed to be taken to cap arrivals. It warned the period may be extended.

Travellers were also advised to confirm travel plans with their airline if they were scheduled to fly into Sydney in the coming days and weeks.

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