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Landed! Covid-busting nonstop LAX-Wellington flight

June 1, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email

An Air New Zealand B787-9 Dreamliner touched down at Wellington Airport in New Zealand’s capital yesterday, having flown non-stop from Los Angeles in the first-ever commercial flight between the two cities – and there’s a special reason why the flight proceeded in the face of the current pandemic.

The flight is believed to have been carrying 56 film workers for the movie Avatar 2. The sequel to James Cameron’s fabulously successful Avatar (the highest-grossing film of all time, globally) is being shot in New Zealand.

According to Wellington’s daily Dominion Post newspaper, the film crew were allowed into the country despite New Zealand’s borders being shut to others so tightly “that families are stuck with oceans between them”.

The plane was a charter flight, not the start of a scheduled service. It flew from one of the most heavily Covid-19-infected countries in the world to a land that’s being hailed as possibly the first on earth to beat the coronavirus.

Those on the flight won’t escape quarantine, however, and must comply with all relevant Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. They were taken straight to 14-day self-isolation, reportedly at QT Museum Apartments, one of central Wellington’s fancier establishments.

During the filming of Avatar 2, New Zealand will again host some of the world’s best-known acting talent. The country is a movie production hub and Wellington is nicknamed “Wellywood”.

Avatar 2 will reportedly see cast members of the original Avatar – Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, Dileep Rao, CCH Pounder and Matt Gerald – all reprise their roles from the original Avatar film, with Sigourney Weaver returning in a different role.

New cast members include Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell, Michelle Yeoh, Jemaine Clement, Oona Chaplin, David Thewlis, CJ Jones, and Vin Diesel.

The Dominion Post quoted an indignant Wellingtonian whose Japanese husband is stranded in Tokyo, who questioned why film workers and other businesses were apparently being placed above reuniting New Zealanders and their families.


Written by Peter Needham

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