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Duynhoven: Launch of Flight Attendants Certificate

Hon Harry Duynhoven: Launch of the National Certificate in Aviation (Flight Attendants)

Welcome Mr Chairman, Gayle Sheridan, and guests. A year ago I had the pleasure of speaking at another ATTTO launch, the Workforce and Skills Projection Report for Aviation. That report forecast the need for 360 new flight attendants each year up to 2010. I am, therefore, very pleased once again to have the opportunity to speak to you, this time to launch the National Certificate in Aviation (Flight Attendants).

I would like to say a few words about the role of the flight attendant in flight safety, the benefits of a national qualification, and the Government's view of safety in the modern aviation environment.

If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing right. When we deal with the safety of passengers, however, the job is not just worthwhile, it is crucial. Doing the job properly is the only possible option.

Flight attendants are in the challenging position of needing to be constantly prepared for events that have a low probability of happening. The acid test is, of course, when an accident or incident requires the immediate activation of a flight attendant's skills. The eventual outcome of a survivable aircraft accident, (and a great many aircraft accidents are survivable), can depend largely on the skills of flight attendants. Flight attendants take pride in doing their jobs professionally and the National Certificate reinforces this pride.

Flight attendants are the very public face of aviation. Many of them, working at the gateway to New Zealand, are also the face of our country. In my experience, flight attendants invariably demonstrate an understanding of what that public position involves; however, I am pleased that the National Certificate will strengthen flight attendance competence in this area.

This qualification is particularly relevant at the moment, given the nature of the domestic and international aviation industry where we are witnessing both fierce competition and spectacular expansion. For instance, India's government reports that its country's air transport sector is expected to experience an average annual growth rate of 16% between 2000 and 2010. Worldwide, there are airline start-ups and there are airline failures. In the international aviation arena, this can translate into a measure of instability for the individual participants in the industry, including flight attendants. Occupational mobility is a hedge against such instability. I would hope that the status of this qualification increases the ability of flight attendants to move their skills and experience between operators as the market allows.

A permanent part of the modern air transport world is security. In terms of lines of defence, flight attendants are near the sharp end. It is a serious responsibility and one that the Government was pleased to reinforce with the passing of the unruly passenger legislation in 2004 (Civil Aviation Amendment Act 2004).

The fast changing aviation business environment also has the capacity to compromise air safety. The Government wishes to maintain a regulatory environment that encourages growth, but without cost to safety, as outlined in The New Zealand Transport Strategy. Assisting Economic Development is one of the five objectives of the Strategy, as is Assisting Safety and Personal Security. The other three objectives include Improving Access and Mobility, Protecting and Promoting Public Health, and Ensuring Environmental Sustainability. We believe that if the industry is to flourish in a sustainable manner, then its participants must take account of all these objectives.

Credit is certainly due to the people within, and associated with, the ATTTO who had the vision and drive to promote this qualification. I would like to congratulate those responsible for developing the syllabus and this qualification.

Thank you for the opportunity to be here this evening and to be a part of New Zealand's growing aviation capability and credibility. The role of a flight attendant is generally acknowledged to be integral to overall flight safety. It is a job that must be done, and must be done properly. I am confident the National Certificate in Aviation (Flight Attendants) will provide operators with further confirmation of the capabilities of their staff, provide flight attendants with a measure of occupational security and mobility, and promote the good standing of New Zealand's aviation industry.


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