More than half of Skyline Enterprises' 1200 staff, spread across New Zealand and at its international sites, will be made redundant.

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

It also has property interests in Queenstown, Dunedin and Christchurch.

Geoff McDonald said redundancy percentages varied from business to business.
Geoff McDonald said redundancy percentages varied from business to business.

Yesterday, Skyline chief executive Geoff McDonald 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.

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

In Queenstown, the company employs about 400 staff, largely at its gondola operation.

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," 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.

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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, but if people are not able to get on a flight to come to Queenstown, well, there's not much we can do," McDonald said.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult called Skyline's decision "just another shock arising from Covid-19".

"I could have no criticism of Skyline whatsoever.

"They have got to do what they have to do to protect their business going forward, but it's just another indication of the damage the Covid-19 lockdown is doing to our district."

He said every tourism business in the district would, eventually, have to look at redundancies.

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It was important for "iconic businesses", like Skyline, to remain in business.

"People aren't going to come here if there's not a gondola going up the side of a mountain or a jet boat on a river or the Earnslaw chugging across the lake."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Queenstown's biggest tourism company, Wayfare, which operates TSS Earnslaw, among many other Southern Lakes attractions, 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.

Boult, also Wayfare chairman, said, like all companies, it was considering the future and deciding how to shape the company to fit the business model they now had.

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Ngāi Tahu Tourism, whose businesses include Queenstown's 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 lay-offs

* 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, are to go. Staff at Rotorua's gondola and luge are also affected.
* Redundancies across its property interests, including Queenstown's Blue Peaks Lodge and Heritage Dunedin Leisure Lodge, as well as Christchurch Casino.
* 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 Philip Chandler