Air New Zealand (ANZ) has grounded 18 crew and two staff who were on board an ANZ flight on 25 April that is suspected to have had passengers on board infected with swine flu.

"As a precautionary measure, the 18 crew and two staff travelling for work purposes on NZ1 on Saturday [25 April] have all been told to stay home for up to seven days in accordance with Ministry of Health standard guidelines," ANZ general manager international airline, Ed Sims, says in a statement.

The Star Alliance carrier says in the statement the ministry is contacting passengers who were on board that flight as well as on board NZ5. NZ5 is another ANZ flight from Los Angeles to Auckland on 25 April that may have carried passengers infected with the virus.

Some passengers on NZ1 and NZ5 have shown flu-like symptoms and are being tested for swine flu because they returned to New Zealand after holidaying in Mexico, the centre of the swine flu outbreak.

Mexico's health minister Jose Angel Cordova has told journalists the number of deaths in Mexico as a result of swine flu has risen to 103 from 81.

He says there are 1614 cases in the country with about 400 of those people now in hospital.

There are also 20 confirmed cases in the USA and suspected cases in France, Spain, Israel and the UK.

Airports around the world have responded by screening passengers in an effort to contain the spread and airlines are making it easier for passengers to delay trips to Mexico.

The outbreak of swine flu threatens to adversely affect international passenger traffic at a time when carriers are already grappling with a slump in traffic brought on by the global economic recession.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news