Air New Zealand’s Staff Ask The Airline To Save Jobs

Over 1,000 Air New Zealand have signed a petition asking airline bosses to keep jobs in New Zealand. The Kia Kaha Aotearoa petition, meaning Be Strong New Zealand in Maori, asks Air New Zealand to save jobs and stop outsourcing work.

Air New Zealand is keeping its Shanghai crew base open, even if they aren’t flying there right now. Photo: Getty Images

Air New Zealand employees criticize the decision to keep Shanghai base open

To date, approximately 4,000 of Air New Zealand’s 12,000 strong workforce have lost their jobs as the airline slashes costs to survive. More still are off on unpaid leave or working slimmed-down hours.

But according to a report yesterday on New Zealand’s largest media website, Stuff, former and surviving employees are underwhelmed at Air New Zealand’s determination to continue outsourcing local cabin crew jobs to China.

It’s all in the name of cutting costs. Most New Zealanders are broadly behind Air New Zealand and its fight to survive. But axing local jobs and bringing in foreign crews to save a few bucks is leaving more than a few people offside.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.

This is especially so after Air New Zealand said it would axe a further 900 international cabin crew jobs last week. But the airline also said it would keep its crew base going in China. Normally, Air New Zealand flies between Auckland and Shanghai daily. But a check of Air New Zealand’s website indicates the airline has just one flight running to Shanghai between now and the end of the year. That’s NZ0289 on December 7.

Air New Zealand employees have signed a petition asking for jobs to stay in New Zealand. Photo: Los Angeles International Airport

Kiwi union also questions why Shanghai stays open

That does beg the question of why it’s necessary to keep the Shanghai crew base open at the expense of keenly needed jobs back home in New Zealand.

E tū, a New Zealand trade union representing more than 50,000 workers, questions the decision.

“Every time as cabin crew, we think we are going to get a reprieve and get back to doing what we love, we keep getting hit down,” a union press release cites an Air New Zealand employee saying.

“We want to see Air New Zealand flourish, and we want to save New Zealand jobs. Our goal is to see the airline bounce back as quickly as it can. We constantly ask why the Shanghai base is still going.”

Another Air New Zealand employee hit the nail on the head regarding the continuation of the Shanghai crew base.

“The Shanghai base has always been about paying crew less and devaluing the role of the cabin crew. Outsourcing is a barrier to raising standards in aviation, and it needs to end.”

Air New Zealand employees fear more local jobs will disappear if outsourcing continues. Photo: Los Angeles International Airport

Air New Zealand CEO holds firm on decision

According to Stuff, some 1,287 Air New Zealand employees have petitioned Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran to stop the practice of outsourcing work and to save local jobs.

But Mr Foran is holding firm. He says he is aware of the angst the airline’s outsourcing causes. But outsourcing is standard business practice, not just at Air New Zealand, but elsewhere. Mr Foran says Air New Zealand will continue outsourcing work to various “business partners” as and when needed. He says during the present cash crunch, the practice made more sense than ever.

However, with so few flights to Shanghai running, the crew base has become a target for New Zealand-based employees fighting to save their jobs. The number of crew based in Shanghai is small in the scheme of things, but the optics aren’t great right now back in Air New Zealand’s home country.

“For the company to focus on immediate labor costs, without taking into account the bigger picture, is short-sighted and damaging to all aviation workers,” says yet another Air New Zealand employee via E tū .

“When the work comes back, it needs to come back to Auckland-based cabin crew.”

What do you think? Should Air New Zealand continue outsourcing crew positions? Should national interest override commercial sense? Post a comment and let us know.