Coronavirus: Aviation industry needs more than $600 million to survive - BARNZ

An industry group representing airlines has welcomed the $600 million support package for the aviation industry announced by finance minister Grant Robertson on Tuesday, but warns it won't be enough.

Justin Tighe-Umbers, executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ), says the package will be a lifeline, but more will be needed in the coming months.

"More will be needed to help re-establish New Zealand's connections to the world and get this country's $17 billion tourism sector back on its feet," Tighe-Umbers said.

"The scale of airline cuts made this week has never been seen before."

Air New Zealand alone is expected to lose $4 billion in revenue this year and in an email to staff last night, the airline's CEO confirmed the company's 12,500 workforce will reduce by up to 30 percent.

"Airlines are in a fight for their lives. New Zealand needs to act fast to safeguard its air connections to the world, ready for when COVID-19 subsidies and air travel picks up again," Tighe-Umbers said.

"The real danger is that we lose critical aviation resources in the short-term, only to find we can't scale the system back up when needed."

E tū, the union representing many of Air NZ's employees, also welcomes the rescue package and says redundancies would not be in the company's long-term interest.

“We eagerly anticipate the details of the package that will relate to certain E tū members, such as the over 5,000 E tū members at Air NZ. We urge Air NZ and other aviation employers to come to the party, as the Government has done," says E tū assistant national secretary Rachel Mackintosh.

"This is the start of a much larger challenge that all Kiwis will need to face together. Air NZ has an opportunity to lead by example and pull out all stops to keep workers employed in good jobs."

BARNZ will be meeting with the government in the next couple of days to flesh out the details of the package. 

The association is calling for a comprehensive package to allow airlines to maintain a minimal schedule and safeguard its people and services, as well as the temporary suspension of government levies, taxes and charges to airlines and rebates for airport charges.

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