Air New Zealand bringing tens of millions of Rapid Antigen Tests into country

It's putting on special charter flights.
It's putting on special charter flights. Photo credit: Getty Images

Air New Zealand is helping to bring in tens of millions of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) to support Aotearoa's COVID-19 response over the coming months. 

The airline is operating nine charter flights through to February 20, and Air NZ's General Manager Cargo Anna Palairet says there are plenty more in the works.

"Operating these charter flights was a no-brainer. There is a real urgency to bring Rapid Antigen Tests into New Zealand, and we're proud to be playing our part in getting them here. It's truly been a fantastic team effort between Air NZ Ministry of Health and the freight forwarders," she said.

"We've been operating charters for RAT kits since December, but things are really ramping up now. In addition to charters, we've also been making use of capacity on commercial flights. Where we've got space, we're using it for RATs. While we are constrained by available aircraft and operating crew for charter flights, having our 777-300 back in action from last week will help to increase cargo capacity across the network.

"We know the demand is there, and our teams are doing everything they can to try and fulfil it." 

Air NZ has seen its cargo business skyrocket over the past two years, with an estimated 200 million tonnes of product carried since 2020.

Earlier this month, Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said a total of 123 million rapid antigen tests [RATs] have been ordered by New Zealand through to June.