7 May 2020

Covid-19: 300 Air New Zealand pilots lose their jobs

7:17 pm on 7 May 2020

Three-hundred Air New Zealand pilots have lost their jobs under an agreement reached on the future of 1200 jet pilots employed by the airline.

Air New Sealand boeing 777-219.

Photo: 123RF

The airline has had to make dramatic cuts to its domestic and international flight schedules due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and its Boeing 787/777 and Airbus A320 aircraft also face an uncertain future.

The Air Line Pilots Association said the 300 pilots were being made redundant this week, with some taking voluntary redundancy or accepting early retirement.

President Andrew Ridling said the affected pilots would be the first to be called back when the aviation sector started to recover.

"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," Ridling said in a statement.

Some pilots would also be able to take leave with pay if they wish, he said.

"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."

Ridling said this was the best possible outcome in these circumstances.

About 900 jet pilots will remain on the airline's payroll, but will take a 30 percent pay cut for the next nine months.

Ridling said Air New Zealand recognised the need to retain the skills of pilots so that they could have people ready to return once demand increased.

"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."

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