300 Air NZ pilots made redundant, hundreds more taking 30 percent pay cut

AIRPORT NARITA, TOKYO, JAPAN - 2017/05/06: Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner landing at Tokyo Narita airport. (Photo by Fabrizio Gandolfo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Almost 300 of Air New Zealand's 1200 jet pilots are to be made redundant, the New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association (NZALPA) confirmed on Thursday evening.

As well as redundancies, around 900 of the airline's jet pilots will remain on the payroll but will take what equates to a 30 percent pay cut for the next nine months.

They will continue flying Air NZ's significantly reduced jet aircraft schedules both domestically and internationally.

NZALPA had been in negotiations with the airline as it made changes to its business due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and an uncertain future for the airline's jet fleet.

NZALPA President Captain Andrew Ridling said they worked to "save as many pilots' jobs as possible."

"Some of those pilots will choose to be furloughed, which effectively leave without pay for the time being. The affected pilots, both redundant and furloughed, will be the first to be called back in by the airline when aviation starts to recover," Ridling said.

"We successfully negotiated a furlough period which could be as long as 10 years, with the furloughed pilots still able to choose redundancy at any time in the first three years.  In the meantime, these pilots are able to take employment elsewhere."

The association said its members are highly skilled and experienced professionals and this was made clear to Air NZ's Chief Executive Greg Foran and his executive team, who recognised the need to retain their skills so it can "turn the tap on again quickly" when demand increases.

In March, Air NZ announced its plans to reduce the size of the company by around 30 percent to keep the airline viable throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

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