Anyone planning to fly on January 1, 2000 with Air New Zealand may wish to wait until the end of June before booking. That’s when the airline will decide whether it’s going to run flights on that day.
Air New Zealand appears to have every intention of flying but would not commit itself until its official policy is decided. The company’s “definitive statement” on Y2K should be made by June 30, although spokesman Cameron Hill expects the deadline to be extended. “Our overall plan is to fly,” says Hill, “but with the caveat that we apply every day with every flight: it has to be with the assurance of safety.”
However, the assistant director of New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority, Michael Hunt, says the Civil Aviation Act has definite things to say about who is responsible for making the decision to fly or not.
“There is a requirement in the act under section 43. No person, and that includes an organisation, shall by act or by omission cause unnecessary danger.” Hunt believes each organisation will have to show they have taken “all the due and necessary steps” to ensure there is no danger.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Transport is leading the call for a rapid decision on whether or not to ban US airlines from flying to destinations not regarded as Y2K-compliant.
The US Federal Aviation Authority plans to have all of its systems fully compliant by June 30, while the International Air Transport Association (IATA) plans to release a survey it has conducted into readiness of aerodromes and air traffic services on July 1. The survey will only be available to members of the association, rather than to the general population.
“IATA is commercially driven – the International Civil Aviation Organisation [ICAO] is the government or independent body,” says Hunt. “ICAO is requiring all signature states to produce information by July 1 as to the state of readiness of their international airlines, major aerodromes and air traffic service providers.”
Hunt isn’t sure how the information will then be used.
New Zealand is a signatory to the ICAO agreement, and Hunt is working closely with industry leaders to ensure New Zealand’s compliance. “In our environment, where we are devolving quite a lot of the responsibility to industry, you will see industry itself making a lot of these judgments.”
The Travel Agents Association of New Zealand had no idea Air New Zealand had yet to make a decision.
“They’re taking bookings, although no-one will have been ticketed yet,” says spokesperson Trisha Moir.
“I guess we’ll just have to wait until July to see what’s going on.”