Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland Int'l) has made swingeing cuts to its workforce in recent days, announcing on separate days layoffs of 300 engineering and maintenance workers, 1,300 cabin crew, and three top executives, the union E tū has told the New Zealand Herald.

The company told its engineering and maintenance division on May 15 that it would slash 300 jobs there as part of a drive to downsize amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In efforts to counter the move and save highly skilled jobs, the union called on the company to bring back to New Zealand work that was outsourced to Singapore Changi in 2015.

“Our engineers produce work recognised around the world as being of the highest quality and take their responsibility to look after passengers very seriously,” said E tū delegate and engineer Peter Lees.

Air New Zealand has also said that its proposal to move base maintenance and some jobs away from its Nelson facility to Christchurch is undergoing consultation with staff.

“We are working closely with all affected individuals to assist them to understand the options available to them and ensure they and their families are supported during this difficult time,” an airline spokesperson said.

The news followed plans revealed on May 7 to axe about 300 pilot jobs and give the remaining 900 a 30% pay cut for the next nine months. The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association claimed to have saved as many of these jobs as possible.

In total, Air New Zealand has warned that up to 3,500 jobs among its workforce of 12,500 could be lost. Because of the pandemic, the carrier has had to make sweeping capacity cuts including 95% of its international schedules.

On May 20, E tū revealed that more than 1,300 Air New Zealand cabin crew would lose their jobs, including 950 out of 1,600 who cover long-haul and medium-haul routes. Another 300 cabin crew working domestic routes will be made redundant, plus a further 97 at subsidiaries Air Nelson (NZ, Nelson) and Mount Cook Airline (NZM, Christchurch).

Then, on May 22, chief executive Greg Foran revealed that Chief Strategy Officer Nick Judd would leave on May 31, head of flight operations John Whittaker would depart on July 31, and marketing chief Mike Tod “will step away” from the airline full-time on May 31. Their responsibilities will be absorbed by the remaining executives.

“We are creating the structure that is appropriate for an airline [which] we expect will take two years to get back to 70% of its former size. On that basis, I have reduced the size of the executive team from nine to six,” Foran outlined.