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Air New Zealand HR chief exits after overseeing 4,000 job losses

written by Adam Thorn | December 8, 2020
Air New Zealand 787-9 Melbourne (Victor Pody)
An Air New Zealand Airbus A320-232 departing runway 34 at YMML (Victor Pody)

Air New Zealand’s head of HR is set to leave the business after overseeing the process that led to around a third of its employees being made redundant.

Joe McCollum was only appointed to the position of chief people officer in April 2020 but the airline insists he is finishing up a fixed-term agreement. Nikki Dines, currently general manager of people – corporate, revenue and employee experience, will be promoted to replace him.

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. There’s also been recent anger from Air New Zealand employees that chief executive Greg Foran has been awarded around $2 million in shares.

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When McCollum was appointed, Foran said, “Joe is no stranger to the type of large scale, rapid workplace change that Air New Zealand has ahead in the wake of COVID-19. He will be a key member of the team to rebuild our airline.”

Dines, meanwhile, joined the company in 2013 and has held a number of roles in the people, airports, and pilots teams, including being the general manager of pilots, head of pilot enablement and senior manager of Auckland Domestic Airport.

“Nikki is regarded as an outstanding leader with considerable airline knowledge and experience. Her promotion into the role is a credit to the depth of talent we have within the airline,” said Foran.

“I want to thank Joe McCollum, who has played a critical role in helping Air New Zealand navigate the COVID-19 crisis and for getting us in a position to be ready to seize the opportunities ahead.”

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Joe McCollum Air New Zealand chief people officer
Joe McCollum is Air New Zealand’s chief people officer.

In November, Australian Aviation reported how union E tū said Air New Zealand workers were “incensed” after hearing that chief executive Greg Foran had been issued 1,369,077 rights convertible to shares, valued at around $2 million.

“It’s rubbing salt into an already painful wound,” said the organisation’s head of aviation, Savage. “The announcement will further reinforce the view of union members that the company’s strategy needs a complete overhaul.

“For the board and the executives to take the share options at this time will do nothing to rebuild the airline’s performance.

“Air New Zealand has drawn down on their government loan and it seems this public money is now being spent on lining the pockets of the senior management.

“The distribution of pay to staff needs to be fair, and the airline needs to retain and create decent jobs. Our national carrier should be something all Kiwis can be proud of, starting with looking after all its employees.”

Alongside Foran, six other members of the business’ top executive team were also issued rights, though thought to be less than the CEO.

“Half of the executive team’s annual remuneration is at risk via short-term cash incentives and long-term share incentives,” said Air New Zealand chairman Dame Therese Walsh in response. “In essence, if the company is meeting its objectives, then the executive will be remunerated accordingly.”

In November, it emerged that 385 international cabin crew were to be made redundant in addition to 550 furloughed staff who have not worked since July.

The new set of cuts came after the business recorded an enormous statutory loss before tax of $575 million for the last financial year.

McCollum’s departure comes after Foran culled his most senior executive team from nine to six in May, and after the recent announcements of exits for chief commercial and customer officer Cam Wallace and CFO Jeff McDowall.

3 Comments

  • David

    says:

    Minor issue to start with, but that’s in no way a B787 in the illustration.

    ZK-OJO is one of Air NZs older original A320-232 CEO aircraft that began it’s many Air NZ paint jobs flying in yellow and was even covered in Looney Tunes characters for subsidiary Freedom Air’s Gold Coast Movie World holiday promotions, just for purposes of correction and clarification. It was the last of Air NZ’s A320s to be repainted in the current livery in Townsville in 2018.

  • Steve

    says:

    That’s an A320 not a Dreamliner

  • Ron Hunter

    says:

    This is a typical business method of handling a merger,takeover, or downsizing.
    Appoint a hatchet man to do the dirty work, then replace with a ‘nice’ guy. It follows the bad cop, good cop scenario.
    Nikki can say” it wasn’t me, don’t take it out on me, blame Joe.” And the Board and CEO can remain silent.

  • Evan

    says:

    The illustration would be an A787, would it not?

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