Three airlines pull contracts with Air NZ

Three international airlines have cancelled heavy maintenance checks by Air New Zealand because of industrial action by its engineers.

But Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) national secretary Andrew Little said the action was restricted only to Air New Zealand planes.

In an internal memorandum issued to staff on Friday, Air NZ's general manager technical operations Chris Nassenstein said Hawaiian Airlines cancelled airplane checks with Air NZ, and moved them to the United States.

Mr Nassenstein said the decision had "serious implications" for the five-year contract, which was still in its first year.

Virgin Blue and Pacific Blue also cancelled heavy maintenance checks at Air NZ's Christchurch base, preferring to have the checks done in Australia in light of the industrial action.

The airlines were able to cancel their contracts because of the industrial action, Mr Nassenstein said.

Last Friday, engineers refused to tow aircraft in or out of hangars, and from this Friday they will refuse to do engine testing, but only on Air NZ planes.

EPMU and Marine Engineers Association members, who make up the vast majority of Air NZ's engineering workforce, are seeking a 5.8 percent pay rise.

They have voted not to accept an offer from the company that amounted to 3.92 percent over a year.

They have already imposed a ban on overtime.

The unions and Air NZ have been in informal talks and hope to restart formal negotiations on Friday, Mr Little said.

He said the engineers concerns arose from "residual issues" from the 2006 restructure.

"There's no question that, from our point of view, the deal last time didn't have enough value in and they're after more."

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