Auckland Airport has been closed after torrential rain hit New Zealand’s largest city, causing widespread flooding in many areas. The airport turned into a seaport, both domestic and international operations were halted on Friday, the 27th of January.
A state of emergency was declared in Auckland after the torrential rain caused widespread flooding and evacuations, closing the city’s airports. The airport which closed both domestic and international operations on Friday was closed until Saturday afternoon when some domestic flights resumed.
Even though domestic flights have resumed from noon, the airport advised that it was assessing whether international flights would also restart. For the time being, the airport has scheduled to open its international terminal no earlier than 5pm local time on Sunday. Following the closure of the airport, 12 international Air New Zealand flights due into Auckland were diverted overnight.
Airport officials closed the airport after the widespread flooding and all passengers were evacuated from the terminals as flood waters built up throughout the terminal. Footage shared on social media showed the check-in area in the International Terminal knee-deep in flood water.
More than 200 passengers due to fly to Sydney at 6.15 pm on Friday were unable to disembark the aircraft and were onboard the aircraft overnight, as they had already boarded when the flight was cancelled.
“As the airline works to process the backlog of customers and flights, the priority is to get our domestic customers who need to travel urgently to where they need to go. Customers needing to travel can rebook online or via the Air NZ app. Those who don’t have urgent travel are being encouraged to make full use of our flexibility policies.”Captain David Morgan, Air New Zealand’s Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Officer
Even though Auckland Airport had initially scheduled to open its international terminal at 5pm on Saturday, no international passenger departures will take place until 5am, Sunday the 29th of January. Air New Zealand advises there is still a lot of work to do to assess whether flying its scheduled departures is possible.
“International flights in and out of Auckland are more complex than domestic, with many parts of the aviation ecosystem needing to be ready as well. This includes airport security, systems to ticket and process customers, and biosecurity and baggage operations.”
The airport has announced that there will be no arriving international flights until 4:30am, Sunday January 29th. More than 2000 people stayed at Auckland Airport terminals overnight on Friday due to flooding. People are asked not to come to the International Terminal at this time for travel.
There will be no international departures from Auckland Airport until 5am, Sunday the 29th of January, and no international passenger arrivals at Auckland Airport until 7am, Sunday the 29th of January. Airlines and Auckland Airport are working with public and private organizations to support stranded passengers.
Emirates Operated 13 Hours A380 Flight to Nowhere
On the 27th of January, an Emirates flight from Dubai to Auckland was forced to turn back to Dubai after six hours and a half due to the closure of the airport.
The Airbus A380 with registration A6-EVL was operating flight EK448 bound for Auckland. Flight EK448 departed from Dubai at 06:57 UTC before it was forced to turn around at about 13:25 UTC while it was flying over the Indian Ocean. The A380 landed back in Dubai at around 19:50 UTC.
Passengers were frustrated after their long-haul flight ended up at the departure airport. However, there might be some happy avgeeks flying in the first-class or business-class cabins who weren’t in a rush to get anywhere for getting two ultra-long-haul flights at the cost of one. Who knows!
Air New Zealand’s Advice to Passengers
Air New Zealand has advised its passengers with non-urgent travel between now and Monday the 30th of January 2023 to make use of the flexibility policy. Its passengers can either hold their fare in credit or rebook in the same class of travel between Saturday the 28th of January 2023 and Monday the 6th of February 2023 without fare difference, a penalty, or service fees.
Passengers who are currently located at the international terminal are being asked to return home until they get details of their rescheduled flight. They are encouraged to find Auckland-based accommodation with friends and family if possible.
“We understand that many of our customers have been affected by this emergency and we want to assure them that we’re here to help,” says Captain Morgan.
Passengers can also easily opt into credit via the Air New Zealand app or website in the Manage Booking tab, by selecting Request a Credit. They can also use the app or website to change their flights to another date and have their change fee waived, though a fare difference may apply.
Advice for Passengers Booked to Travel
The Air New Zealand app is the easiest way for customers to stay up to date with flight details and changes. Most customers are able to self-serve via the Manage Booking tab on the Air New Zealand website.
“We will endeavor to notify and rebook customers to the next best alternative over the next 48 hours. As the contact center is experiencing extremely high volumes of calls we ask that only those with travel over the next 24 hours contact us directly. We wish to apologize to anyone who was unable to access the support they needed. We know this has added to the stress and anxiety of passengers in the terminal.” says Auckland Airport.
The airport also requested its passengers not to travel to the airport until they receive an update that their flight is going ahead.
“We’re working on getting customers to their final destinations and getting our crew and aircraft back in the right place. It might take a few days to get everything back on track,” says Air New Zealand.
Alongside a huge impact on the airport’s operation, multiple houses and buildings have been flooded, with local roads and highways unpassable or closed due to flooding and slips. Moreover, New Zealand’s weather forecaster said while heavy rain had eased, another period of downpours was possible on Sunday.
Images via Twitter