Air New Zealand axes hundreds more cabin crew jobs

Air New Zealand has confirmed the loss of nearly 400 cabin crew jobs that had been under review for the last two months.

Lack of international flying means 385 crew will be made redundant by December.

The airline today said today it had also decided to wind up a furlough arrangement in place with 550 international cabin crew.These job losses had been included in totals released earlier this year.

Air New Zealand chief operating officer Carrie Hurihanganui said that the airline’sinternational schedule remainedlargely limited by border restrictions.

”Unfortunately there is not enough flying to provide sustainable rosters for the number of international cabin crew we have.”

She said consultation with crew was now completed and the airline would be going ahead with the reduction of around 385 full time equivalent roles.

Due to the terms of two different collective contractual agreements for international widebody crew, in order to action those redundancies, it now has had to wind up a furlough arrangement with around 550 international cabin crew who finished working in the business in July.

About 4000 Air New Zealand staff out of about 12,500 had lost their jobs roles since the start of Covid-19 which includes the 550 international cabin crew on furlough.

”We are working closely with our unions to see if there is a different way we can provide these crew with a pathway back to Air New Zealand,” said Hurihanganui.

Unions have been concerned about the airline sacking staff and using crew based in Shanghai.

She said the Shanghai crew base was contracted to Air New Zealand through Foreign Airlines Service Corporation (FASCO), which is a government agency in China.

”It is a requirement of the Chinese authorities that Chinese nationals are hired through this organisation. However, Air New Zealand considers and has always treated these crew as Air New Zealanders.”

None ofthe 58 Shanghai-based crew were currently operating after being furloughed inFebruary.

Limited flights to Shanghai were currently being operated by New Zealand-based cabin crew.”

This tough period has seen the airline cut staff across the business.

Union E tū previously has hit out at the decision to make more cuts at Air New Zealand, calling on the airline to halt outsourcing.

E tū head of aviation, Savage, said there is no operational reason for Air New Zealand to retain a crew base in Shanghai.

“For the company to focus on immediate labour costs, without taking into account the bigger picture, is short-sighted and damaging to all aviation workers.”

Savage said the airline and the jobs it provides are a vital piece of New Zealand’s infrastructure.

Comment has been sought from E tū today.

Air New Zealand reported an underlying loss of $87 million for the 2020 financial year, compared to earnings of $387m last year.

Covid-19 has wiped out its first-half result and statutory losses before taxation, which include $541m of other significant items, were $628m, compared to earnings of $382m last year.

The after-tax loss was $454m.

The airline has benefited from wage subsidy payments of $75m to the end of June and a further $40m since then. It has been paid $21m from the Government’s freight subsidy scheme which runs to the end of the year and has supported more than 250 charters.

The International Air Transport Association says airlines can’t slash costs fast enough to cover severe cash burn to avoid bankruptcies and preserve jobs next year.

Total industry revenues in 2021 are expected to be down 46 per cent compared to the 2019 figure of US$838 billion (NZ$1.2 trillion), the International Air Transport Association says.

This is a far more grim outlook than earlier in the year when it was calculated revenue would be down around 29 per cent compared to last year.

This was based on expectations for a demand recovery in the fourth quarter of this year but a resurgence of Covid-19 in second and third waves around the world has put the brakes on air travel.

The association expects full year 2020 traffic to be down 66 per cent compared to last year.

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