Air New Zealand is upping wages in a bid to plug a 400-vacancy workforce shortage across its bases in Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington.
The national airline has upped its entry-level wage to $30 per hour, from $23.52, as part of a recruitment drive.
This 27 per cent pay increase was primarily aimed at attracting new ground staff and retaining lower-paid workers.
Nikki Dines, Air New Zealand’s chief people officer, said that the pay increase was a key part of rebuilding the airline’s airports team, which was facing increased demand and competition for labour.
“For those looking to join, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of something special,” she said.
The shortfall in labour was in front and back of house airport operations including ticketing, bag handling and cleaning.
She made the pitch that the airline was a great place to kick-start a career that came with the opportunity to “grow their skills and access fantastic travel benefits”.
Dines said that existing Air New Zealand staff were also being given a promised pay increase above inflation.
All airport employees would be offered a pay rise of between 9.5 and 26 per cent, within the next 12 months.
“Retention across the business is important,” said Dines. As post-pandemic demand continued to put pressure on the business, inflation and a tight labour market meant that the airline was competing with all sectors for workers.
Bidding war for airline talent
Amid a long pandemic rebuild, aviation wages are getting a shake-up across all levels.
Many airlines have returned to profit but the benefits are being spread unevenly across this international industry.
In the US, pilots for Delta and American airlines have matched a 40 per cent raise over the next four years. TSA screening agents were offered an average pay raise of 30 per cent at the beginning of the year.
This week transport unions said Australian airline workers were worse off post-Covid despite big airline profits.
The Transport Worker Union, TWU spoke out after it was revealed that Qantas had approached 1500 former cabin crew to return to work for what it saw as less favourable conditions.
TWU secretary Michael Kaine told Australian Aviation it was a cynical and “predictable” move against some “workers who had spent years building up good, secure jobs, to replace them with lower-paying, insecure work”
Last September the Union secured a 12.6 per cent pay rise for “chronically understaffed” airport workforce at Australian airports.
While a pilot shortage continues to be felt in New Zealand, a number of factors meant it was harder to attract pilots and workforce from abroad.
Dines said that a shortage in qualified pilots was best addressed at a grass-roots level and building a better pipeline to get new pilots into Air New Zealand.