Three people have been made redundant as part of a restructure of the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy.
The redundancies, confirmed to the Chronicle by chief executive Phill Bedford on Friday, are the result of the restriction on international students entering New Zealand, leaving the organisation with a surplus of staff.
Two flight instructors and one administration staffer were made redundant.
But despite the job losses, Bedford said the academy, owned by Whanganui District Council Holdings, had some of its greatest demand ever.
"We need to carefully manage our resources for what we're required to deliver. As we've had international students over time finish up and return home, we would have been over-resourced," Bedford said.
"We can't carry that. We need to maintain the business in a sustainable way."
Asked why the academy made the decision to conduct the restructure of its 25 staff only days out from Christmas, Bedford said the decision simply couldn't wait any longer than it already had.
"We pushed it out as long as we could essentially. We allowed time to get a decision out of Wellington, and we felt that by this time of year that international students would be able to enter.
"We did everything we could, but 80 per cent of our students are international."
According to Bedford the academy is in a strong position, despite the global pressure on the airline industry.
"There is no downturn in enrolments. We've got an increase in enrolments. We have 80 students enrolled who have paid their first instalment of their fees into the public trust account, but we just can't get them into New Zealand."
Bedford said the academy had been seeking an exemption since the borders closed in March, but the Government has not been forthcoming with a solution.
According to Bedford, the Government's unwillingness to provide a solution was causing "unnecessary economic damage".
"We're starting to see the conversation change slightly now to thinking about how managed isolation beds are allocated post-March. A lot of those people are coming from Australia, so if there is a bubble with Australia, we're hoping that will free up some beds."
Bedford said the academy had approached the Government presenting the idea of managing its own MIQ facility where students could self-isolate at the academy's accommodation in Whanganui.
"We're quite confident that we can do that. During lockdown we maintained level 4 for all of our students anyway, without an incident."
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told the Chronicle that New Zealand's elimination strategy had to come first, but the Government was open to ideas.
"The Government understands the impact of Covid-19 on a range of industries in New Zealand, and has provided some support to them. New Zealand has an elimination strategy for Covid-19, which to date has been highly successful," Hipkins said.
"Providing an effective managed isolation and quarantine system to keep New Zealanders safe remains a critical part of that approach. How we do this in future, however, could change as we continue to learn more and as situations change overseas."
Hipkins added that there was work being done by the Government to establish travel "bubbles" with other countries.
"We are also looking at opportunities for quarantine-free travel on a case-by-case basis and we are actively doing so with Australia and the Cook Islands right now. Other options being considered include quarantine periods of different lengths, depending on risk.
"Our contact tracing and testing regimes are very strong - but we need to ensure the demands are balanced with other demands on our health system."
Bedford said his message to the Government was simple.
"Please just give us the opportunity to present our case, and work with us to allow access for international students in a safe way."