By DANIEL RIORDAN
Up to 800 Air New Zealand workers (8 per cent of the airline's total workforce) will lose their jobs as the airline cuts its flight schedules by 10.5 per cent from November.
Air New Zealand says most of the cuts will come on international routes and no provincial centres will lose their services, though some are expected to have fewer flights.
The cuts are less drastic than those announced by most airlines overseas.
Acting chairman Dr Jim Farmer, QC, said directors' fees were being halved and that none of the recently retired directors would accept a retirement allowance.
The layoffs and schedule cuts come as airlines around the world struggle to cope with reduced demand for international air travel following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.
After yesterday's board meeting, Dr Farmer said the airline would consult unions before it decided how many staff would be made redundant. But he said the number was likely to be under 1000.
Attrition, a recruitment freeze, cuts to overtime and encouraging staff to take accumulated leave would reduce the need for redundancies.
Engineering Union national secretary Andrew Little, whose members work in the engineering, baggage handling and terminal areas, said the airline had told unions that the equivalent of 800 fulltime jobs would be lost.
He expected the actual number of staff made redundant would be less and did not expect any engineers to lose their jobs.
Air New Zealand employs just under 10,000 staff, 9300 of them in New Zealand.
Flight Attendants Association executive officer Terry Law did not expect any of his 1300 members within the core Air NZ business to lose their jobs.
Air Line Pilots Association president Keith Molloy said it was too early to know how his members would be affected. He represents 520 core Air NZ pilots, and a further 330 working for Air NZ subsidiaries, including Link services and Freedom Air.
Most of the flight reductions would be on routes between Sydney and Los Angeles and across the Tasman, Dr Farmer said.
More detailed announcements on flight schedule changes and reorganisation would follow.
Dr Farmer said redundancies would not be as significant as at other airlines, because the demand for air travel from New Zealand was increasing.
Internationally, airlines have cut their workforces and routes by as much as a third, and some have collapsed since the September 11 attacks.
Reports from Australia last night suggested Qantas was preparing to cut its executive ranks by 10 per cent and slash international flights, mainly to the US.
By DANIEL RIORDAN