After another four-week suspension due to New Zealand’s so-called second coronavirus wave, Australian low-cost carrier Jetstar Airways (JQ, Melbourne Tullamarine) resumes domestic services in the country on September 17, 2020, following the easing of onboard social distancing restrictions.

The country has relaxed social distancing rules on public transport, including the need to keep the middle seat open on airlines, and is due to review its COVID-19 alert levels again on September 21, 2020. Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland International) in response promptly released thousands of cheap flights; while Jetstar announced it would resume domestic services.

In a statement on September 14, 2020, the wholly-owned Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) subsidiary announced it now would resume up to 75 flights on six domestic routes, representing about 60% of its pre-COVID schedule. From Auckland International, the carrier would operate up to 21 weekly returns to Christchurch and Queenstown International respectively; daily returns to Dunedin; and double dailies to Wellington. It would also add daily return flights between Christchurch and Wellington; and daily returns between Wellington and Queenstown.

Jetstar initially resumed domestic flights in New Zealand in July after it was first grounded for three months during the first wave of the pandemic. As the second wave hit the country, the airline last month suspended flights again, saying it was unable to continue its operations while there was a requirement to keep the middle seat free, as the limitations on the number of passengers made its operations unfeasible.

The airline earlier announced its international services from and to New Zealand and Trans-Tasman flights remained grounded until at least October 24, 2020, as restrictions on international travel to and from Australia and New Zealand remained in place.

Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland International) marked the removal of physical distancing by releasing 180,000 of its cheapest domestic seats, of which 70,000 were sold within six hours. The airline said it was currently flying 200,000 seats per week, representing 70-75% of its pre-COVID-19 capacity. The airline resumed all its domestic services on August 31 as the country relaxed its COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. However, Air New Zealand Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui recently said the recovery of the airline's international network post-COVID-19 would be slower than initially thought.

Meanwhile domestic carrier Originair (Nelson, NZ) reported increasing travel demand. It planned to extend its existing service from Nelson, NZ to Palmerston North with direct weekday flights to Hamilton, NZ from October 19, 2020; and was increasing its Nelson–Palmerston North services from eight to 14 flights per week. Chief Executive Officer Robert Inglis said: “This represents a cautious start on the Hamilton–Palmerston North route in line with the challenging times. Initially, we will service this schedule with a 19-seat Jetstream 32, but we may increase the aircraft gauge to accommodate demand.” In order to operate the additional flights, the company has imported a further Jetstream 32EP from Iceland. “This aircraft is currently being prepared for CAA inspection and entry to service on the New Zealand register,” Inglis said. ch-aviation earlier reported the aircraft originated from Eagle Air Iceland (FEI, Reykjavik Domestic).

Air Chathams (3C, Chatham Island) resumed flights on August 31 with daily flights from Auckland International to Whakatane, Whanganui, and Paraparaumu/Kapiti. Following New Zealand’s initial lockdown, it restarted services on May 24 but reported a 40% drop in performance in June compared to June 2019. However, it lately reported positive signs on its mainland routes, especially to the Chatham Islands, where it was seeing a large jump in demand for travel due to restrictions on international travel.

Barrier Air (Auckland International), which operates scheduled passenger and freight services from its two Auckland bases (Auckland International and North Shore) to Great Barrier Island, resumed scheduled serviced on August 30, according to social media.