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NZALPA Jet Pilots Ratify Negotiated Deal With Air New Zealand In Wake Of Pandemic

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) has reached agreement with Air New Zealand on the careers of more than a thousand of its jet pilot members employed by the airline.

Negotiations were required in response to dramatic cuts to the airline’s domestic and international schedule due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and an uncertain path to recovery for the airline’s jet fleet of Boeing 787/777 and Airbus A320 aircraft.

“We’d been in talks with Air New Zealand for a number of weeks to save as many pilots’ jobs as possible and ensure a fair process for getting other pilots back in the air once the recovery gets underway,” says NZALPA President Captain Andrew Ridling.

Around 900 Air New Zealand jet pilots will remain on the payroll but will take what equates to a 30 per cent pay cut for the next nine months. They will continue flying Air New Zealand’s jet aircraft on domestic and international routes (with significantly reduced schedules).

“Sadly, almost 300 of about 1200 of our Air New Zealand jet pilot members are being made redundant this week (some taking voluntary redundancy) or are accepting early retirement.

“Some of those pilots will choose to be furloughed, which is effectively leave without pay for the time being. The affected pilots (redundant and furloughed) will be the first to be called back in by the airline when aviation starts to recover. There are challenges with so much uncertainty surrounding economic recovery, and the recovery of the aviation sector in particular. We successfully negotiated a furlough period which could be as long as 10 years, with the furloughed pilots still able to choose redundancy at any time in the first three years. In the meantime, these pilots are able to take employment elsewhere,” says Captain Ridling

“Our members are highly skilled and experienced professionals and Air New Zealand recognises the need to retain their skills so it can turn the tap on again quickly in response to increasing demand. The airline needs a core group of pilots on its payroll and ready to fly; and another group of pilots who can be brought back in, in response to increased demand.

“The furlough provision is a major achievement for our members. We wanted to keep all of them flying, but we acknowledge the near total collapse in demand means this isn’t possible. What we have achieved is the best possible outcome in these unique circumstances and shows the value of a strong professional association such as NZALPA to its members,” says Captain Ridling.

“We were very clear with Air New Zealand’s Chief Executive Greg Foran and his executive team from the beginning of this process: if we couldn’t save every job, NZALPA would fight to ensure there was a clear path back to Air New Zealand for our members choosing to return.

“This has been a very challenging and stressful time for NZALPA, our members and their families and we will continue to support them until they are able to return to their careers in aviation.”

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