Some Air NZ London staff told about job losses mid-flight - union

E tū says the workers found out their office is closing while on the job.
E tū says the workers found out their office is closing while on the job. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Workers union E tū has spoken out about Air New Zealand ending its flights to London, saying some of the airline's UK-based employees were told mid-flight, while working.

Air NZ announced on Wednesday morning it was ending its London services after providing them for more than 35 years.

E tū's aviation spokesperson, who asks only to be referred to as 'Savage', said the union's "thoughts are with the staff who will lose their jobs".

"The 130 London-based crew are members of Unite union in the UK. They are a mix of nationalities with about 30 New Zealanders," said Savage.

"As we understand it, some of the London crew will have found out today while half-way to LA that the base was closing."

E tū said it was "not surprised" by Air NZ's decision to end its services to London, which have been running since 1982.

Savage said the airline's axing of the service from October 2020 - and replacing it with an Auckland-New York direct route - is a reflection on Air New Zealand's strong focus on profits.

"It is clear the airline is focused on maximising profits on every route they fly. For E tū members, it is important the drive to increase company profits does not undermine the company's social commitments to its own employees," said Savage.

"Profit at the expense of decent, well-paid aviation jobs here in New Zealand will not help the New Zealand economy thrive."

Air NZ's acting chief executive Jeff McDowall said the company will work with the union as its London base is shut down.

"We will be working with our people and their union to help with the next steps in their career, including looking at opportunities in other areas of the airline," he said.

McDowall is temporarily the airline's boss before Greg Foran takes up the role permanently.

His announcement earlier this month was met with concern at E tū, based on his previous job.

"We were concerned when we heard Greg Foran had become Air NZ CEO, because Walmart has such a bad reputation as an anti-union, anti-worker employer," Savage told Newshub.

"But we also know there have been improvements to that under his leadership."

Foran will take up the position of Air NZ CEO in "the first quarter of 2020".