Air New Zealand is planning to make nearly 1500 cabin crew redundant - a move slammed by their union as too rushed.

An email sent to staff today confirms up to 1460 cabin crew members face losing their jobs.

"We know time is not on our side as we burn through just under $14 million a month in crew salary costs," an internal email obtained by the Herald says.

Leeanne Langridge, general manager cabin crew, said these were ''strange and extremely difficult times.''


Earlier this week the national carrier indicated that 387 pilots could lose their jobs.

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Langridge said cost cutting over the last few weeks had not been enough to avoid redundancies.

''Despite all the measures we have taken, it saddens me to say we still need to make significant full time equivalent reductions.''

Air New Zealand has announced specific details today about its decision to cut around 1500 jobs from its cabin crew workforce.

Up to 300 full time cabin crew would go from the A320 fleet, 950 from widebody Boeing 777 and 787s and 210 from regional turbo-prop aircraft.

E tū' union's head of aviation, Savage, said that the New Zealand public would share workers' dissatisfaction with the news.

"Kiwis care about each other and about the success of our national carrier, so today's news that Air New Zealand wants to rush to axe 1500 cabin crew roles will be of real concern to the public," he said.

"Staff want to see the airline succeed and prosper again and, like the New Zealand public, they want to see it carry on with even better safety, service and standards."


However, the company is risking its good reputation by speeding into a redundancy process.

"The company's plan to lay off thousands of people while the country is still in lockdown is the wrong move. It's too rushed and it doesn't need to be. That is not what fair consultation looks like and it is very disappointing to see a once proud company get it so wrong. They risk destroying the very organisation they are trying to save.''

The wage subsidy, Air New Zealand's cash reserves of just under $1b and the Government's $900m loan meant there was time to properly work through a process and look to the future.

''E tū members can see the scale of the problem and want a 'just transition' approach, where people are at the heart of the process.''

There needed to be time to develop plans for redeployment and repurposing, for retraining and a proper recovery for the airline.

''Only then can the company, with its workers, set itself up for success. That's what New Zealand needs right now."

Langridge said when the airline emerged from the Covid-19 crisis it would be 30 per cent smaller than before.

''The main goal is to survive through the worst financial impact Air New Zealand has ever seen and bounce back when demand picks up,'' she said.

''If we can do that now, we will be able to look at building our numbers back up as the operation ramps up again,'' she said.

E tū has welcomed the news that the Government has appointed former New Zealand Council of Trade Unions President Ross Wilson as independent advisor to the Air New Zealand board providing strategic advice from a unionised worker perspective.

Airlines worldwide have been hammered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Early this week Virgin Australia confirmed it was closing its New Zealand base with the loss of around 550 jobs.

In this country the Government has loaned Air New Zealand $900m to continue operating.

New Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran has said the airline's immediate future lies in a domestic service.

New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association (NZALPA) president Andrew Ridling said earlier this week that the union would fight for every pilot's job.

"We have been very clear with Greg Foran and the Air New Zealand executive team from the beginning of this process: If we cannot save every job, NZALPA would fight to ensure there is a clear and transparent path back to Air New Zealand for all pilots who chose to return."

Air NZ chief executive Greg Foran. Photo / Michael Craig
Air NZ chief executive Greg Foran. Photo / Michael Craig

Air New Zealand has already indicated that it will need to reduce its 12,500 strong workforce by up to 30 per cent.

In an email sent to staff and Airpoints members 10 days ago, Foran forecast revenue to plunge from close to $6 billion a year to $500 million.

The only flights remaining were in place to keep supply lines open and transport options for essential services personnel. The airline was in the final stages of finalising its domestic network which could fall from 20 centres to close to half a dozen.

''We are no different to a household. We have outgoings like debt repayments, utilities bills, lease payments [in our case planes not cars] etc … and we need income [or as we call it – revenue] to cover all our bills,'' Foran said.