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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - Air New Zealand is now keeping cabin crew members separate between international and domestic flights to mitigate the coronavirus spread risk in the country.

The airline said it had introduced “split groups” for its Airbus A320 crew in its current roster, so there would be separate crews for trans-Tasman and domestic flights.

Previously, Air New Zealand said an “incredibly limited number” of crews on its A320s and Boeing 787-9s might have been rostered to fly both domestic and international routes during the pandemic.

The change came after country's one of the major newspapers reported an Air New Zealand crew member’s concerns that crewing flights across the Tasman could not be regarded as “low risk” because they were often carrying transit passengers from countries in Europe and Asia that been hard hit by the virus.

Air NZ said while a 787 was also operating some “ad hoc” flights between Auckland and Christchurch, staff who had also crewed that aircraft on trips to the United States needed to have a compulsory Covid test after they returned from the US.

Director-general of health Ashley Bloomberg said last week that the Ministry of Health had been talking to the airline about its practices and that it might require crew flying international routes were not rostered on to domestic flights.

However, that requirement has not been included in new, more detailed rules published by the ministry. Air New Zealand said in a statement that it had changed its A320 rostering arrangements on its own accord, without that being a Ministry of Health requirement.

The ministry’s new rules mean crew members are required to adhere to three different regimes according to whether their stopovers are deemed low, medium, or high risk.
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