Air NZ plans to cut 180 jobs at Auckland engineering base, citing move to modern aircraft

Air New Zealand, the government-controlled national carrier, plans to cut 180 jobs at its Auckland Technical Operations engineering base, citing a move to more modern aircraft which require less maintenance.

The airline is in talks with staff about cutting jobs from July 2014 as it mulls its future needs for wide body aircraft heavy maintenance, spokeswoman Brigitte Ransom said in an emailed statement. The talks will run until late September with a decision slated for October, she said.

"The proposed changes reflect a projected drop in future demand for wide body maintenance services both from within Air New Zealand and from external maintenance customers," Ransom said. "This is largely due to Air New Zealand and its customers introducing more modern aircraft to their fleets, which require less frequent maintenance."

Air New Zealand would continue to perform heavy maintenance work with reduced staff, the company said. The company didn't immediately respond to questions on expected cost savings from the cuts. The cuts could save it about $18 million a year, based on the average salary of its 10,500-strong workforce as at June 2012.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, which represents the workers, said it will start a 58-day consultation process with Air New Zealand where it will have the opportunity to analyse the airline's business case and suggest an alternative proposal.

The job cuts suggest the high New Zealand dollar is making the airline uncompetitive in bids for third party engineering work, the union said.

"The confirmation of job losses is devastating for our members and we will be doing everything we can to protect jobs," EPMU assistant director of organising Strachan Crang said in a statement. "New Zealand has world-class aircraft engineers but unless we see action on the high dollar, this highly-skilled, well-paid industry will continue to decline."

The proposed cuts follow job losses at the Christchurch Engine Centre, Safe Air and Air New Zealand technical operations, the EPMU said. Air New Zealand is also proposing to outsource the upgrade of its Boeing 777-200 fleet, the EPMU said.

Shares in Air New Zealand fell 1.7 percent to $1.42.

(BusinessDesk)

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