Air New Zealand has announced that it’s in the process of recalling 175 stood down cabin crew in preparation for the likely resumption of trans-Tasman flights early next year.
The employees, who work on the larger A320, have been on ‘furlough’ since June but choose to stay at the airline rather than take redundancy.
The news comes days after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged to create a travel bubble with Australia in the first quarter of 2021.
The business’ general manager of cabin crew, Leeanne Langridge, said the crew, who will also fly to Rarotonga, were keen to return.
“It’s been heartwarming to make these phone calls before Christmas,” Langridge said. “Their uniforms are all ready to be collected, and I’m sure many of them can’t wait to wear the koru again. These crew represent Air New Zealand so well and have missed being part of our customers’ journey.
“We’ve had incredible feedback from businesses all over the country about our cabin crew who have been volunteering and working in other industries while they have been on furlough. They will now undergo comprehensive refresher training before taking to the skies again.
“This is also great news for our airline and Aotearoa as we’re looking forward to reconnecting more New Zealanders with our Pacific and Australian neighbours.”
Earlier this week, PM Ardern said she would name the exact date to restart trans-Tasman travel in the new year. She also added that any opening wouldn’t take place until contingencies were in place to deal with a future COVID outbreak.
“It is our intention to name a date for the commencement of trans-Tasman quarantine free travel in the new year, once remaining details are locked down,” said PM Ardern.
“But I think for now, New Zealanders by and large appreciate the approach of the government to ensure that we are not taking on an unnecessary risk as we’re going into the summer.
“We’ve never been wanting to put specific dates prematurely before we’ve made final decisions because people make plans, people book flights, and people may potentially have quarantine bookings that they could cancel.
“We don’t want anyone to do that prematurely until we have certainty around when it will open.”
The news comes after a one-way ‘travel bubble’ opened in October, allowing Kiwis to enter Australia without quarantine, but not the other way around. It had initially been hoped two-way travel would be permitted before the end of 2020.
Since the one-way bubble has opened, all Australian states and territories have opened to NZ except Western Australia, which still requires 14 days’ quarantine on arrival.