The first Air New Zealand flight to repatriate stranded German nationals has departed from New Zealand, Air New Zealand senior pilot said on Friday.
The senior pilot, Captain David Morgan, stressed that the plane, carrying up to 342 people, left Auckland on Friday, headed for Frankfurt via Vancouver.
According to him, the Boeing 777-300 is expected to land at Frankfurt Airport on Saturday. Morgan added that further repatriation flights would depart from Auckland and Christchurch airports in the coming days.
He said detailed plans were in place to ensure passengers returned home safely.
“We are pleased to be able to help the German government to safely bring its people home. “Our teams have quickly mobilized a schedule with daily flights scheduled through to April 8 and more to come,” Morgan said.
He said that the airline was grateful for the support of German and Canadian officials. “Naturally the well-being of our passengers and crew is Air New Zealand’s top priority.
“We are incredibly grateful for the measures put in place by the New Zealand government to ensure the safe departure of foreign nationals from our shores.
“Air New Zealand is working with several other governments on requests for repatriation charters,’’ Morgan said. The German Embassy in Wellington said over 12,000 Germans had registered for the repatriation programme. (NAN)