Air New Zealand is on the hunt for hundreds of extra flight attendants as its growth surges for the rest of the year. Managers are running mass recruiting sessions at the airline's Auckland headquarters on weekends to find up to 300 more cabin crew to help staff more domestic and international flights, says the Air New Zealand chief operations officer, Bruce Parton. About 100 hopefuls at a time were undergoing screening on Saturdays for positions, he said. The airline would normally recruit 200 extra flight attendants a year, but to fill extra positions 450 to 500 new staff were being sought. Read also: • Ladies and gentlemen... This is your captain speaking • Air NZ flies Dreamliner to Fiji summer "The growing pains are very real," Parton said. "It's a good issue to have - growth is good and it's a matter of making sure we [recruit] professionally and well." The airline will add 12 per cent available seat kilometres to its network over the remainder of the year. International growth is strong into Asia as a result of the resumption of flying to Singapore and it will start flights three times a week to Buenos Aires in December at the same time as its newly announced Houston service of up to five times a week. Yesterday it announced extra flights to Fiji over summer, using a Dreamliner from November to March, which would add 8000 more seats than last year. It has also released figures on expanded domestic plans where it is spending $1.2 billion in new domestic jet and turbo-prop aircraft. Although the airline is pulling out of some regional routes from next week it said it would increase its overall total domestic capacity by more than 650,000 seats in the coming financial year. Increased flight frequencies and the domestic jet fleet transition from Boeing 737s to new larger A320 aircraft were behind the growth on the Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown routes.
"We're going after people who have the X-factor, who we think will continue to deliver the customer ethos we think is so important for us."Parton said that with flight attendants the size of the pool of recruits was not an issue. "We're not finding a lack of potential candidates, the key is to keep our standards up," he said. "We're going after people who have the X-factor, who we think will continue to deliver the customer ethos we think is so important for us." The airline is scheduled to add 10 new aircraft to its fleet this financial year and he said this provided opportunities for progression. "We need more leaders on the plane and that means those people who joined us three or four years ago have got opportunities for leadership positions." Parton said expansion would help the airline achieve economies of scale. "All of those things are good at at-cost level. We can spread infrastructure costs across more flights so that's good for a business." Finding pilots was not an issue yet, said Parton. The looming closure of Eagle Air meant some of those pilots were being retrained for bigger turbo prop planes and others were graduating to jets. "We have a plan to bring more regional pilots into the jets.