Air New Zealand’s CEO was spotted working the luggage claims hall at Auckland Airport on Sunday, after a long summer of mishandled bags and lost property.
The airline confirmed the executives team were among those volunteering during the busy holiday period.
The Air NZ chief is known for being a ‘hands on’ boss, frequently appearing pushing catering trolleys, but this latest job swap comes as the airline comes under fire for luggage handling.
Air New Zealand is one of the main operators of ground handling services at Auckland airport providing services to seven other carriers, loading and sorting luggage.
Over Christmas Auckland Airport, in particular, was the scene of mountains of lost and unaccompanied luggage.
Last week National MP Shane Reti published an open letter to Auckland Airport and Air NZ along with a picture of the arrivals hall dated 26 December.
Having had almost a quarter million views of his original post The MP said he had since spoken with the airport and airline on what can be done to increase capacity for handling unaccompanied baggage.
“It is clear there needs to be a champion and further leverage,” he said of the passengers still missing luggage.
So, was Foran’s shift in the arrivals hall in response to pressures on the airline to review its luggage handling services?
A spokesperson for the airline said that the work was part of the airline’s volunteering scheme which it operates during peak travel periods.
“Hundreds of Air New Zealanders from across our business, including Greg and members of our executive team, have been volunteering to help our teams at Auckland Airport over this busy holiday period,” they said.
“Teams have been hitting the ground since mid December and will continue to help out during January.”
Airline employees from other parts of the business have been volunteering at other airports including Christchurch, Nelson and Wellington.
One passenger in the Auckland arrivals hall on Sunday who was trying to locate missing belongings said that they were surprised to have the CEO on the case.
The traveller who had arrived from Chicago said that they were still missing a bag containing irreplaceable family heirlooms.
“It would appear Greg Foran is far more of a hands on CEO that we all realised,” they said.
“To re-earn the trust of the NZ Govt and Kiwis who rely on Air NZ to get around, he has no other choice but to fix things before they become unfixable.”
Summer luggage woes
As the first summer and peak travel season with borders open to international travellers, teething problems were expected.
There have been some changes to luggage handling which will help combat mounting baggage piles at airports.
The airline recently reviewed its ban on luggage tracking devices and GPS tags, which had until recently been listed under the prohibited items due to lithium batteries.
Air New Zealand said it updated guidance as soon as possible following the CAA changing guidance last week.
Passengers can now use bag trackers such as AirTags and other trackers providing their battery is under 2.7 Watt hours and contains less than 0.3g of lithium.