More than 1,000 Air New Zealand staff have signed a petition to save jobs and stop the outsourcing of work to Shanghai.
The ‘Kia Kaha Aotearoa’ comes after it emerged that 385 international cabin crew are to be made redundant in addition to 550 furloughed staff who have not worked since July.
Chief executive Greg Foran responded to the protests by arguing that keeping all services in New Zealand is “not always the best or most feasible business outcome”.
The company has so far cut around 4,000 jobs, or around 30 per cent of the company, in an attempt to reduce the wage bill by $150 million.
Local website Stuff reports that the first petition has been signed by 1,287 workers, while a second online petition urges the business to finally draw down on its government loan.
“Air New Zealand is using COVID as an excuse to clean house and weaken employment agreements,” it reads.
Union E tū has previously hit out at the airline’s decision to outsource jobs to China, which it claims “has always been about paying crew less and devaluing the role”.
“Outsourcing is a barrier to raising standards in aviation and it needs to end,” said E tū’s head of aviation, Savage. “When the work comes back, it needs to come back to Auckland-based cabin crew.
“For the company to focus on immediate labour costs, without taking into account the bigger picture, is short-sighted and damaging to all aviation workers.”
In August, Australian Aviation reported how Air New Zealand recorded an enormous statutory loss before tax of $575 million (NZ$629 million) for the last financial year – but didn’t draw down on its $824 million (NZ$900 million) government loan.
The results revealed that coronavirus travel restrictions sparked a 74 per cent drop in passenger revenue from April and the business spent $309 million (NZ$338 million) grounding its 777-200ER fleet.
Foran hailed a resurgence in domestic flying but warned, “with almost 70 per cent of our revenue derived from international flying, while border restrictions remain in place our business will continue to be significantly impacted”.
The bad news comes despite an extraordinary resurgences in domestic travel as COVID numbers in the country appear to be in retreat.
In September, the Kiwi flag carrier operated 90 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 domestic schedule for the school holidays, and even ran more services to Queenstown than last year.