Coronavirus: Air New Zealand closes London base early, suspends Argentina service

Air New Zealand has brought forward the closure of its London base due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The base at Heathrow was meant to close in October when the airline had planned to cancel its daily flight between London and Auckland via Los Angeles, but due to the impact of coronavirus on air travel, the decision has been made to end the service this week.

The London base employs 130 flight attendants.

The London-based crew will operate their final flight from Los Angeles to London on March 20, with a New Zealand-based crew then operating its final trip home.

"Our London-based cabin crew have always gone above and beyond. They consistently provide exemplary service to our customers and we remain incredibly proud of the base. Our priority now is supporting our people and we'll be working closely with them and their union," Air NZ's cabin crew general manager Leeanne Langridge said.

The decision to end its daily service to London was announced at the same time the airline revealed it was launching a new non-stop Auckland - New York service, however it's understood the launch of that service has been delayed.

Air NZ has also announced the immediate suspension of its service to Buenos Aires "following increased government restrictions for travel into Argentina".

Flight NZ31, which arrives in Auckland early Friday morning, will be the last service between the two cities.

"This is a rapidly evolving situation and we thank customers for their patience and understanding at this challenging time. Our teams are working through options for customers impacted by the earlier than planned suspension and will be in touch in coming days," Air NZ's Captain David Morgan said.

Earlier this week, the airline announced it was suspending 85 percent of its international routes as well as making major reductions to flights across the Tasman to Australia.