Grounded travel workers around New Zealand are asking if essential Kiwi businesses are in need of extra hands.

Messages asking to #HelpKiwisFly again have been trending on social media as grounded travel agents and cabin crews are looking for redeployment opportunities to make a difference during the Covid-19 crisis.

Last week the high street travel agent Flight Centre announced it would be closing 33 stores in New Zealand. This cut is part of a 30 per cent cull of staff, that represents over 4000 jobs across Australia and New Zealand.

David Coombs Flight Centre New Zealand's managing director said it was a decision they had "hoped to avoid."

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#ProjectRemedy: Flight Centre NZ managing director David Coombes says the travel industry has been overlooked in government aid. Photo / Greg Bowker
#ProjectRemedy: Flight Centre NZ managing director David Coombes says the travel industry has been overlooked in government aid. Photo / Greg Bowker

"We took every possible step to save these roles but, in the end, we were left with no choice," he said on Monday.

Coombs said the travel industry would be forced to make "further tough calls", if travel agents continue to be overlooked in government relief.

"While outbound travel has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, travel agents have been overlooked in the government support packages announced to date, leaving the industry fighting to save more than 5000 employees."

However, with travel restrictions and a shortage of services until at least mid June, many staff are looking for temporary work in areas of high demand during the curent state of emergency.

Former travel agents and Flight Centre staff have taken to social media to encourage potential employers to consider hiring colleagues who have lost their jobs.

Using the hashtags #HelpKiwisFly and #ProjectRemedy the travel agency has begun asking for offers of work for former staff.

"If you have, or know of, a business looking for staff at this time, please let us know by emailing projectremedy@flightcentre.co.nz," Coombs asked.

Certain areas are in desparate need of staff with shortages brought on by the current emergency measures. In particular food retailers have been in contact with Project Remedy due to the extra pressures put on the supply chain by the Covid 19 pandemic.

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A spokesperson for the company said they have been contacted with offers for work "from everything from Kiwi farms to disability services, all in need of help at this time."

Coombs said he and Flight Centre had been humbled by the generosity of Kiwi businesses, and that they welcome "all opportunities for our teams, whether that's full time or contract employment, or part-time for those who have taken unpaid leave."

Air New Zealand has grounded hald of its 114 aircraft amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo / Alex Burton
Air New Zealand has grounded hald of its 114 aircraft amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo / Alex Burton

New Zealand's empty skies are a reminder that the coronavirus pandemic has affected the travel industry disproportionately. Airports and air traffic have ground to a near halt.

Over half of Air New Zealand's 114 aircraft are parked up for the near future, and the national airline has said it will be forced to cut 4000 jobs as a result of travel restrictions.

JetStar staff are expected to be among the 20,000 jobs stood down by parent company Qantas and Virgin Australia announced that redundancies would be unavoidable after it grounded its international fleet until at least mid-June.

Some airlines have contacted former staff asking them to consider volunteering during the Covid 19 pandemic as health workers.

Demobilised airline staff in the UK have been encouraged to volunteer at purposed built hospitals in response to the covid 19 pandemic. Photo / Justin Setterfield, Getty Images
Demobilised airline staff in the UK have been encouraged to volunteer at purposed built hospitals in response to the covid 19 pandemic. Photo / Justin Setterfield, Getty Images

In the United Kingdom Virgin Atlantic and easyJet both contacted their workers to ask if they would consider working with temporary National Health Service hospitals set up in response to the pandemic.

All 9000 of easyJet's UK based staff were contacted regarding the opportunity. This is not as extreme a transition for staff as it might appear, 4000 of whom have training in emergency medicine for their roles as flight crew.

EasyJet's director of cabin crew Tina Milton told the BBC her workers "could make a real difference".

A spokesperson for Air New Zealand said the airline is "exploring redeployment opportunities with external organisations where workload has increased due to the impact of Covid-19."

However, they had no update as to whether this would be in essential health work.

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