Air New Zealand has announced the departure of 300 pilots as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the other 900 seeing their wages reduced by 30%. As travel restrictions are eased in New Zealand for next week, she plans to boost domestic capacity to 20% of normal, with the resumption of domestic flights to begin with.
Announced on May 7, 2020, by the New Zealand Airline Pilots Association (NZALPA) « after weeks of negotiations », the agreement found with the New Zealand government provides that the national company will part with 300 pilots or a quarter of total; this will involve early retirements, voluntary departures, and layoffs. For the 900 others, continuing to drive will be done with a 30% salary cut for nine months.
Union president Andrew Ridling said he had negotiated « to save the jobs of as many pilots as possible », and « to ensure a fair process to get the rest of the pilots back in the air once the recovery begins ». According to him, pilots who left Air New Zealand voluntarily or not « will be the first to be recalled when the sector has recovered »; and the duration of unpaid leave chosen by some « may last up to 10 years in some cases ».
Ready and waiting for when it's time to take to the skies once more… ✈️ pic.twitter.com/EdXv12UKBu
— Air New Zealand✈️ (@FlyAirNZ) May 4, 2020
Due to travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, the Star Alliance company has grounded 58 of its 114 aircraft, and in the past month and a half, its capacity has been reduced by approximately 95%.
If Air New Zealand has not officially confirmed the news, it did, however, present this morning its take-off plan – if the transition to « Level 2 » (out of 4) announced by the government for next week, which provides for relaxation current containment conditions, is confirmed. According to CEO Greg Foran, capacity on the home network was to rise to 20% of the norm, with the return of ANZ aircraft « to Queenstown, Invercargill, and Blenheim in the South Island, and to Rotorua, Gisborne, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Hamilton, Whangarei, and Kerikeri in the north ”. All this in addition to the lines currently operated for « essential journeys » between Auckland and Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga, and Napier, as well as between Wellington and Christchurch, Nelson and Dunedin. Eleven routes would be offered from Auckland, six from Christchurch, and seven from Wellington. But more should be announced once the date for Level 2 is confirmed.
But this resumption of domestic flights will be done without the cheapest fare: the social distance « of one meter means that we can only sell a little less than 50% of the seats on a turboprop plane, and only 65% on an A320, ”said the CEO.