Christchurch Casino operator cutting staff by half

Geoff McDonald
Geoff McDonald
More than half of Christchurch Casino operator Skyline Enterprises’ 1200 staff based across New Zealand and overseas will be made redundant.

Skyline Enterprises also operates the Queenstown gondola and luge, and similar operations in Rotorua, along with luges in Singapore, South Korea and Canada.

It has property interests in Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.

Yesterday, Skyline chief executive Geoff McDonald, of Queenstown, confirmed more than half his 1200 staff in New Zealand and overseas will be laid off from the end of next month, when the Government’s wage subsidy ends.

However, the company still plans to continue with a $200 million redevelopment of its Queenstown gondola/restaurant complex, including car-parking building, and has applied for assistance from the Government’s infrastructure fund.

Mr McDonald said redundancy percentages varied from business to business.

"We’ve basically had to build completely new structures [for each business], so that means that roles affected are affected pretty well at most levels."

Skyline started consulting staff a fortnight ago.

Staff and shareholders were informed of redundancies yesterday.

"It’s very unpleasant ... It’s not something that you enjoy doing at all," Mr McDonald said.

Staff had been "incredibly professional", despite the pressures they and their families were facing.

Last month, Skyline chairwoman Jan Hunt, in an email to shareholders, said the company aimed to ensure it could "ride out these tough times and emerge on the other side as a strong and sustainable business for the future".

Mr McDonald has joined other tourism leaders in urging the Government to open up "some sort of domestic travel" when Alert Level 2 begins.

"We can manage people on site, we can manage the social distancing, the contact tracing, etc, but if people are not able to get on a flight to come to Queenstown, well, there’s not much we can do," Mr McDonald said.

Queenstown’s biggest tourism company Wayfare, which operates TSS Earnslaw, planned to downsize too.

Spokeswoman Tsehai Tiffin had nothing to add to the company’s statement last month that it was planning for the "eventuality" of permanent staff redundancies. None would be made until after the Government wage subsidy ended.

Ngai Tahu Tourism, whose business include the Shotover Jet and Glenorchy’s Dart River Jet, last month mothballed its operations "for the time being". More than 300 jobs are likely to be lost.

Skyline Enterprises layoffs

  • Redundancies across its property interests, including Christchurch Casino, Queenstown’s Blue Peaks Lodge and Heritage Dunedin Leisure Lodge.
  • More than 600 of the company’s 1200 staff, in NZ and overseas, to be made redundant.
  • About half its 400 Queenstown staff, mostly employed at its gondola, restaurant and luge complex, to go. Staff at Rotorua’s gondola and luge also affected.
  • International redundancies at luge operations in Singapore, South Korea and Canada.
  • Redundancies to take effect after the end of the Government wage subsidy.

 - Additional reporting ODT, Philip Chandler



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