2021/22 REGIONALS and 2022 NATIONALS CANCELLED 26 January 2022

Cancellation of Flying New Zealand Nationals 2022

A message from Flying NZ President
Rodney Maas

On behalf of the Flying NZ Executive Team, and in conjunction with our hosts, the Marlborough Aero Club, I regret to advise that we have made the incredibly hard decision to cancel the 2022 National Competitions.

While superficially the reason is because of Covid 19 (like many things these days), there is more to it than just the presence of Covid 19 and the complications created by Omicron.

Impact on outstanding Regional competitions

Flying NZ have also made the decision to cancel the outstanding regional competitions.

With the Nationals cancelled, there is little incentive to continue with the Regionals. Even though levels of Covid 19 are not yet as bad as they could be, cases are spreading and pose similar risks as to the Nationals.

For those who have registered and paid for the cancelled regionals, refunds will be processed in due course.

Rationale for cancelling

To be clear, under the Red traffic light rules, we could have run a national competition. It would have posed some challenges around the limit of 100 people in any one specified location and the dinner and other food service would have been complicated. These however would have been manageable challenges.

Most experts are in agreement the Omicron variant will spread throughout the community. It will likely do that rapidly.

While it may be less harmful to those of us who are vaccinated (and particularly those who are boosted), the sheer numbers have the potential to make large number of people sick at one time. It is this uncertainty that poses the challenge for us. Competitions depend on competition officials, judges, and competitors. If we were to have even one case at the competition, it is possible that large numbers of attendees would be required to isolate. Replacing one official is easy enough. Replacing several officials, including air judges, with people experienced and competent to perform the role (and at short notice) is not realistic, nor is it safe. The prospect of attendees having to self-isolate away from home is not something any of us want to consider.

Having our competitions labelled as a “super spreader” event, or even a “location of interest” after bringing competitors, judges and officials in from around the country is a headline waiting to be written, and one that is avoidable.

It would also be unfair on the Marlborough region, whose community and health services would bear the brunt of an outbreak. Some people have expressed concern about travelling to the competition, precisely because of these risks.

Lastly, we would shortly be incurring significant costs through bookings of caterers and other suppliers. Cancelling now minimises those costs (below $2000, vs many times that later on).

It is unfair to expect Marlborough Aero Club to continue to put the required effort in for a competition which is likely to be pulled at short notice anyway.

Because of all of this, the Flying NZ Executive Team, in conjunction with Marlborough Aero Club have decided the most responsible decision is to cancel this year’s competitions.