The collapse in travel and failure of airlines around the world might have some Air New Zealand frequent flyers wondering whether there's any life left in their Airpoints. 

Forsyth Barr head of research Andy Bowley said the programme was worth protecting.

The loyalty programme "is one of Air New Zealand’s biggest strengths and makes it very hard for other airlines to compete for Air New Zealand passengers," he said. 

It would be “very damaging for them to devalue the airpoints already in circulation,” he said.

Air New Zealand said the programme was still operating smoothly despite covid-19.

“To date, Air New Zealand has not encountered any failures or delays in the provision of rewards that have not been able to be easily remedied or resolved,” a spokesperson said.

No ruling on force majeure event

“We have not considered, or made any determination, as to whether covid-19 and its associated impacts could be a force majeure event or a circumstance outside our control, as set out in the Airpoints terms and conditions,” the spokesperson said. 

The Airpoints programme has 3.2 million members and the loyalty programme was worth around $370 million in the year to June 30, according to the 2019 annual report. 

Given that Air New Zealand has slashed its international capacity to 5 percent members probably aren’t redeeming the points for flights.

However, they can be swapped for products ranging from perfume to wine as well as to rental cars, holidays and Koru Club membership. They can also be used at Mitre 10.

Air New Zealand said the focus had been on ensuring the Airpoints programme “continues to operate as well as possible during this uncertain time, and that our Airpoints members continue to receive the benefits of their membership to the extent possible.”

She said the programme will be core to efforts to rebuild Air New Zealand and it has been actively communicating with members, letting them know about the steps it had taken to recognise their loyalty while travel was restricted.

Change or credit tickets

Silver, Gold and Elite members have been offered a 12-month extension to their status "and we’ve extended Koru memberships by six months," she said.

Regarding potential liability from forward booked flights, Air New Zealand's website said the company was offering customers the option to change or credit their domestic flights within New Zealand when booked to travel before June 30, or international flights booked to travel before July 31, 2020.

According to Bowley, any refundable tickets would be refunded. Non-refundable tickets would be given credits to use over the next 12 months.

“Given the inability for many of its customers to use credits in future I think there is a possibility that a refund scheme is actioned in time but that will only be when planes are back in the air and the company’s profit and loss is in a better shape than it is now,” he said.