AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Since New Zealand closed its borders in March 2020, setting the stage for one of the world’s most successful Covid-19 responses, the wide-body jets that once ferried its citizens to every corner of the globe have mostly been redeployed for shipping freight. And the vast majority of Kiwis have, throughout the pandemic, been as flightless as their eponymous birds.
But on Saturday, some 300 residents of Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, boarded an Air New Zealand Boeing 787 jet once again at the city’s international airport. This time, it was not to take a trip, but to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the booth of a business-class seat. The doses were kept cool with dry ice on the trolleys that typically offer a choice of chicken or beef.