How the Air New Zealand strike will affect Christmas travel plans

An industrial dispute threatens to disrupt the holidays of thousands of Kiwis over Christmas, after Air NZ union workers announced plans to strike.

Initially E Tū union had said it would only strike for one day and Air NZ said 40,000 travellers would be affected.

But the strike has been extended to three days and up to 120,000 people are now at risk of seeing their holiday plans collapse.

Workers will walk off the job December 21-23 over pay and overtime disputes.

The airline said in a statement when the strike was first announced on Monday it could not rule out disruption to travellers plans.

The union says Air NZ is using misleading information to try and sway public opinion and forcing the union's workers, which includes cleaning staff and store workers, to accept a bad deal.

What travellers need to know


Air NZ is recommending passengers avoid calling its contact centre before the strikes as there won't be any further information available.

The airline will contact passengers closer to the time to advise them if their flight is affected. It's also suggesting any customers who have travel booked on those days to sign up to its travel alert system and keep a close eye on their flight details.

There's a good chance some international and domestic flights will be cancelled or delayed if the strike action goes ahead.

"We are working on contingency plans to keep our flights moving the best we can if, as a worst-case scenario, strike action should go ahead - unfortunately some disruption would be inevitable though," Air NZ said in a statement.

Anyone taking a regional flight using the turbo-prop aircraft will be unaffected.

There are other options for passengers if they want, but it's likely to be expensive. A flight from Auckland to Christchurch on competing airline Jetstar could set you back $251-$335.

Driving could be an option if you're staying within the same island, but if you want to get any further ferry sailings across the Cook Strait are selling out.

A third day of negotiations between the airlines and the union began on Wednesday morning.

Newshub has contacted Air New Zealand for comment.