Air New Zealand to cut staff by up to 30 percent, CEO Greg Foran confirms

Air New Zealand says it is starting the process of redundancies and will be reducing its 12,500-strong workforce by up to 30 percent.

That's around 3750 jobs.

A statement from the company's chief executive officer on Monday confirmed the airline would suffer substantial losses.

"One of the harsh realities we find ourselves facing is that we will require fewer Air New Zealanders as we move to grounding most of our international operations," said Greg Foran. 

"To minimise the level of redundancies we are strongly encouraging staff to take annual leave, long service leave or leave without pay where practicable."

Air NZ announced it would be suspending flights between Auckland and Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, Tokyo Narita, Honolulu, Denpasar and Taipei from March 30 to June 30. 

It is also suspending its London-Los Angeles service from March 16.

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association (NZALPA) believes the staff cuts at Air New Zealand will be permanent.

The association released a statement following a meeting with Air NZ on Monday afternoon, following the airline's morning announcement it was cutting international capacity by 80 percent.

"Air NZ will be looking to reduce employee headcount across the organisation by up to 30 percent. We understand this will not be a short term measure," said NZALPA president Captain Andrew Ridling.

Foran said it will take more than a year for the airline to fly the same capacity it was before COVID-19.

The NZALPA represents the majority of Aotearoa's pilots and air traffic controllers. It believes this drastic cutback in flights will cost the airline billions.

"The industry is aware that, until this unprecedented situation developed, Air NZ would have had forecasted annual revenue of approximately NZ$6 billion. I would no longer be surprised if that forecast is reduced to around NZ$1 billion," said Ridling.

The NZALPA is awaiting further announcements from Qantas and Virgin Australia.