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Air NZ to cancel 25 regional services due to union

Media Release
30 March 2009

Air New Zealand forced to cancel 25 regional services due to union stance


Air New Zealand will be forced to cancel 25 regional services each week as a result of the introduction of the new rest breaks legislation impacting on Air Traffic Control Towers around the country.

Air New Zealand Group General Manager Short Haul Airlines Bruce Parton said it was farcical that services to five regional airports would have to be cancelled due to the inflexibility of Air Traffic Controllers represented by the New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association.

Under changes to the Employment Relations Act, which come into effect on Wednesday, NZALPA is insisting that members take their breaks at scheduled times rather than working flexibly as they have in the past. Air New Zealand understands that as a result, the Civil Aviation Authority from Wednesday will be forced to close five towers twice each day for 30-45 minutes.

The effect of these cancellations on pilot and cabin crew job numbers is currently being assessed.

“We have been working hard to avoid redundancies across the business where possible, and it is disappointing that this action will put jobs at risk at two of Air New Zealand’s regional airlines - Air Nelson and Eagle Air,” Mr Parton said.

Mr Parton said regional customers will face disruption and reduced frequency as Air New Zealand is forced to remove approximately 2500 seats each week from regional capacity. Air New Zealand also stands to lose up to $3 million in revenue through the cancellation of these services to Gisborne, Napier, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Invercargill Airports.

“We appear to be the victims of an overly rigid dictate to business on how to achieve a healthy and safe workplace, not to mention further constraints to the agility and adaptability we need in these incredibly challenging times,” he said.

Mr Parton said Air New Zealand currently operated more than 3400 domestic services a week, and had no option but to cancel the services. Retiming the services is impractical because it would disrupt the schedule across the entire network.

“This reduction in services is a devastating blow to regional New Zealand and Air New Zealand during a period of unprecedented economic uncertainty, and at a time that tourism operators throughout the country are desperate to sustain visitor numbers. Now, more than ever, government, unions and businesses need to work together to retain jobs and stimulate the economy.’

Mr Parton called on regional mayors and tourism operators to lobby NZALPA strongly for a change to its stance.

“Safety is paramount and non-negotiable for everyone working in the aviation industry but we are confident that a solution can be found in these regions by NZALPA that will meet all the necessary statutory, customer and commercial requirements,” he said.

Draft schedule of likely affected services (timings to be confirmed)

Route trips per week
NPE-WLG 5
AKL-NPE 3
AKL-GIS 6
NPL-WLG 1
AKL-ROT 1
CHC-IVC 2
GIS-WLG 1
AKL-GIS 5
AKL-NPL 1

ENDS

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