Air New Zealand buckles up for impact as Cyclone Gabrielle intensifies

Air New Zealand plane on the tarmac at Auckland Airport
ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

New Zealand is bracing itself for the arrival of Cyclone Gabrielle, with Australia’s Norfolk Island also likely to be struck.

On Friday February 10, 2023, Australia’s weather bureau upgraded the cyclone to a category 3 storm, which can generate winds of 118-159 km per hour and gusts up to 224 kph (140 mph).

In New Zealand, the country’s Met Service has issued a 26-hour yellow weather watch from 10am on Monday February 13, 2023, to noon on Tuesday February 14, 2023. However, residents have been advised to expect impact from the cyclone as of Sunday.

Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle is currently located in the Coral Sea and is expected to move southeast towards New Zealand over the coming days.

The NZ Met Service said it is ‘expecting a significant weather event’ with ‘strong wind, heavy rain and large swell’.

Cyclone Gabrielle is predicted to fall on north island areas including Waikato and Waitomo, across to the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, Taupo and Taihape.

The duration of the event and the strength of the wind is highly dependent on the track of Cyclone Gabrielle and the weather watch could be upgraded to an orange or possibly even red in the coming days.

Auckland Airport is having to prepare for Cyclone Gabrielle only weeks after torrential rain left terminals flooded and passengers wading through water.

The airport has announced that every part of their system is currently hard at work to make sure its staff and operations are ready to safely manage the predicted weather.

Inside the terminals, supplies of blankets, water, snack food and essentials will be on hand to ‘support stranded travelers while they ride out the weather’.

“On the airfield, the integrity of the runway and the safe movement of aircraft come first, and our team will be monitoring the airfield continuously throughout the severe weather. If they see any risk of foreign object debris, we will immediately close the runway – something that is standard practice for us regardless of weather conditions,” said Auckland Airport Chief Executive Carrie Hurihanganui.

In preparation for Cyclone Gabrielle, Air New Zealand is offering fare flexibility to any customers booked to travel to, from or through Auckland, Whangarei, Kerikeri, Tauranga, Hamilton and New Plymouth between Sunday February 12, 2023, and Friday, February 17, 2023.

The airline has confirmed it is working with relevant authorities to understand the severity of the cyclone and warned customers to prepare for some delays and cancellations.

“Teams around the business have kicked into gear to start planning for any disruptions to our network due to Cyclone Gabrielle. We will do everything we can to limit the impact on our schedule. However, with severe winds forecast for the North Island, it’s likely we’ll need to make some changes,” said Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty.

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Ian Molyneaux
Journalist[br][br] Ian joined AeroTime in February 2023 after working as a journalist in London, UK. He has also previously worked for a business aviation events organizer and has a master's degree in journalism. Ian is based in Brighton, UK.
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