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Offshore maintenance will hurt airline's reputat'n

Offshore maintenance will damage airline's reputation

The Green Party is urging Air New Zealand to buy Kiwi made after the announcement today that the airline is considering laying off 600 aircraft maintenance staff in favour of sending work offshore.

The airline's proposal will see heavy maintenance work on its long haul fleet of Boeing 747, 767 and 777s, currently done by Air New Zealand Engineering Services, outsourced to centres in Asia or Europe.

Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald said the majority shareholder in the airline was the New Zealand government and he planned to raise his concerns with shareholding minister Michael Cullen.

"We urge the government to take a smaller dividend so that Air New Zealand can put people before profits.

"I also urge the airline to re-think this proposal and take a long-term view of its engineering requirements. The continuing high New Zealand dollar is partly to blame for this move, but once the dollar returns to a realistic level the cost of outsourcing would increase, but by then it will be too late to reinstate the heavy maintenance service.

"Air New Zealand also needs to realise that the cheapest price is not necessarily the best deal. By shifting a significant proportion of the engineering services to offshore businesses, it may also be damaging its reputation as one of the world's safest airlines.

"Many travellers place a high premium on safety records, when making decisions on which airline to fly. If they become aware that vital maintenance work is being carried out by low-paid workers in huge plants in Shanghai, I believe they are likely to chose another airline, or worse change their destination, robbing New Zealand of valuable tourist dollars.

The Green Party will be offering its support to the main union on the site, the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union.

"No manufacturing job in New Zealand will be safe if we continue to compete in a race to the bottom," Mr Donald said.

ENDS

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