Air New Zealand jet pilots take 30% pay cut, 300 laid off

Air NZ says travel remained very restricted. Photo: supplied
Air New Zealand jet pilots have forged a deal which sees them take a 30% pay cut and limits the number of job losses to around 300.

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association (NZALPA) says it has saved as many jobs as possible.

About 900 Air New Zealand jet pilots will remain on the payroll but will take what equates to a 30 per cent pay cut for the next nine months. They will continue flying the airline's jet aircraft on domestic and international routes with significantly reduced schedules.

Some captains make a basic salary of around $330,000 with flying pay and other allowances on top of that.

Association president Andrew Ridling said pilots had faced an uncertain path following the dramatic cuts to the airline's schedule. It is flying around 95 per fewer services than this time last year although will increase some domestic services when the country drops down to level 2.

"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," said association president Andrew Ridling.

"Sadly, almost 300 of about 1200 of our Air New Zealand jet pilot members are being made redundant this week (some taking voluntary redundancy) or are accepting early retirement.''

Some of the pilots will choose to be furloughed, which is effectively leave without pay for the time being.

The affected pilots (redundant and furloughed) will be the first to be called back in by the airline when aviation starts to recover, said Ridling.

''There are challenges with so much uncertainty surrounding economic recovery, and the recovery of the aviation sector in particular. 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 would be able to take employment elsewhere," said Ridling.

Thousands of pilots around the world have been laid off or stood down.

Riding said Air New Zealand recognised the need to retain their skills so it can turn the tap on again quickly in response to increasing demand.

The airline needed a core group of pilots on its payroll and ready to fly; and another group of pilots who can be brought back in response to increased demand.

"The furlough provision is a major achievement for our members. We wanted to keep all of them flying, but we acknowledge the near total collapse in demand means this isn't possible,'' said Ridling.

"We were very clear with Air New Zealand's chief executive Greg Foran and his executive team from the beginning of this process: if we couldn't save every job, NZALPA would fight to ensure there was a clear path back to Air New Zealand for our members choosing to return.''

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