The fascinating reason why Air New Zealand’s US flights will stop in Hawaii during the pandemic

Jan 5, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The coronavirus has upended airline route networks as we know them.

In addition to adding new leisure-focused destinations for passengers, airlines have redrawn their route maps to minimize the chance that crew members contract the virus.

The latest modification comes from Air New Zealand. Beginning Feb. 2, 2021, the carrier’s U.S. flights will operate with a stop in Honolulu for a crew change.

Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter for more airline-specific news!

Air New Zealand explains that the Hawaii stop will allow “our crew members to overnight in Honolulu rather than Los Angeles” in an effort to reduce the risk of crews catching the virus on the mainland, where positivity rates have climbed as high as 15% and up.

While flights will stop in Honolulu, passengers won’t be able to get off the plane for an island excursion. The crew that operates the Auckland to Honolulu flight will layover there before returning to New Zealand a few days later.

A new crew will fly from Honolulu to the mainland and back, where they’ll rest for a few days. Finally, a third crew will fly from Honolulu to Auckland.

Though New Zealand is closed for tourism, returning citizens and others with pre-approved visas can travel to the country on an Air New Zealand flight.

Due to the significantly reduced demand, the airline has cut its U.S. operations to just two weekly Los Angeles flights, Cirium schedules show. The airline continues to operate multiple cargo-only flights to both Los Angeles and San Francisco. One Mile at a Time reports that the carrier’s cargo flights will also stop in Honolulu.

The new Honolulu stop will add about 500 miles to the Los Angeles flights, which represents an additional two hours or so of travel time.

Air New Zealand isn’t the only airline to redraw its route network to accommodate its crewmembers.

More: United has an intricate plan to repatriate COVID-positive pilots

American, Delta and United aren’t flying directly to China, citing the lengthy waits crew face on arrival, as well as the other coronavirus-related restrictions placed upon them during layovers. Instead, they’ve added stops in Seoul, South Korea to avoid staying over in China.

United, for its part, has even detailed a new repatriation process for pilots that test positive for the virus during a work trip. The Chicago-based carrier has promised to ferry infected or possibly infected crewmembers back to the United States on non-passenger flights.

Featured photo courtesy of Slattery 

The All-New United Quest℠ Card

WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.