Travel advice: How Kiwis can take off perfectly on their summer holidays

03 December 2020

In the year of COVID-19, the busiest days for domestic travel at Auckland Airport have moved from early December to closer to Christmas, with travellers more likely to fly for leisure than business.
Anna Cassels-Brown, General Manager Operations, suspects the change reflects a shift in the habits of business travellers.

“In previous years, business travellers would be wrapping up their work year with trips right through the first week of December. This year’s biggest days are Fridays and they seem more likely to be leisure focussed as Aucklanders are doing their flying closer to Christmas and into the New Year.”

More than 22,000 travellers are expected to pass through Auckland Airport this Friday – forecast to be one of the busiest days of the summer break. Domestic numbers are expected to reach about two-thirds of last summer’s figures.

While Auckland Airport’s busiest days last Christmas saw more than 40,000 customers pass through the international terminal, this year’s busiest days for international are expected to peak at just over 3,000.

“Many of those pre-COVID-19 international customers would have gone on to catch domestic flights,” said Ms Cassels-Brown. “But the demand from Kiwis wanting to fly domestically has remained strong, which we’re taking as a sign that the public is confident about air travel.

“And it’s important that we all remain vigilant to the risk of COVID-19 spoiling Christmas. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve asked Kiwi travellers to play their part to keep themselves and the community safe – and our guests have been great at following Ministry of Health guidelines.

“After enjoying the July school holidays at Level 1 and then going through the September holidays at Level 2, it’s really important that travellers don’t get complacent. That’s why we’re encouraging guests to wear masks inside the terminal, scan the NZ COVID Tracer QR code, follow social-distancing protocols and make use of the hand-sanitiser stations we’ve set up. And if you’re feeling unwell, don’t come to the airport.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Auckland Airport has followed Ministry of Health guidelines and increased the frequency of cleaning inside the terminals.

Auckland Airport was the first airport in New Zealand to receive the Airport Health Accreditation, an endorsement of health and safety measures introduced during the pandemic. The accreditation was introduced by the Airports Council International to establish global best practice on COVID-19 health procedures and processes.

Throughout the summer period, food and beverage operators are open inside the domestic terminal along with other retailers. All are following COVID-19 health and safety practices.

“2020 has been a year like no other – and we all really deserve a good break this summer,” said Ms Cassels-Brown. “That’s why we want everyone to make a good start to their journey. Our teams put in a lot of planning for the summer period here at Auckland Airport – and we’ve worked closely with airlines and government agencies to make sure we all know when passenger volumes are expected to peak, and can be prepared.”

With roadwork projects still underway around the precinct – including on George Bolt Memorial Drive and State Highway 20B, the main roads leading into the airport from north and south – Ms Cassels-Brown said travellers should remember to allow plenty of time for their journey to the airport.

“While COVID-19 has affected traveller numbers and the amount of traffic on the road, Christmas is always the busiest time of year at Auckland Airport. Travellers should make sure they start their journey well – head to the airport with plenty of time and play your part to keep all of us healthy.”

Wellington is the most popular destination for people travelling from Auckland Airport this summer, followed by Christchurch, Queenstown, Dunedin and Nelson.

Hot tips for travellers this summer:

Auckland Airport has prepared a list of Christmas travel tips… and checked it twice.

  • Don’t fly if you’re feeling unwell
  • Allow plenty of space between yourself and others inside the terminal
  • Passengers must wear a mask on board the aircraft, and we’re encouraging everyone to wear one when inside the terminal
  • Dispose of your mask in a rubbish bin
  • Wash or sanitise your hands frequently
  • Scan one of the NZ COVID Tracer app QR codes displayed around the terminal
  • When you’re heading to the airport, allow plenty of time for a relaxed start to your holiday

Top 10 domestic travel days for summer school holidays:

  1. Friday, 4 December 2020
  2. Friday, 11 December 2020
  3. Friday, 18 December 2020
  4. Friday, 29 January 2021
  5. Thursday, 24 December 2020
  6. Sunday, 27 December 2020
  7. Sunday, 6 December 2020
  8. Sunday, 13 December 2020
  9. Friday, 22 January 2021
  10. Sunday, 20 December 2020

Most popular domestic routes for December

  1. Wellington
  2. Christchurch
  3. Queenstown
  4. Dunedin
  5. Nelson