Air NZ stalwart books himself early retirement

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 11:30 03/03/2014
 Jim Curry

Cleared for takeoff: After 40 years’ service Jim Curry has a few things to tick off his bucket list.

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Air New Zealand's Jim Curry is taking early retirement, at the same time his job in Blenheim is being disestablished.

Mr Curry, 64, Air NZ's Holidays Store Blenheim branch manager, said it was sad to say goodbye to his colleagues and friends on Friday after four decades with the company.

"Forty years is a long time. Some people started with me or have been here longer than me.

"It's going to be hard to cut that tie."

The company's group business was relocating to Auckland this week, he said.

"That's part of the reason my job's disappeared because they've moved the group and charters business to Auckland, or part of it.

"The company is amalgamating. We have direct groups which come directly into the company and we have indirect groups via the travel agents so they have merged the whole lot under the one management structure."

Mr Curry's job entailed booking thousands of groups on national and international long-haul charters and flights each year.

The groups included sporting teams such as the Breakers, netball teams, the ITM Cup rugby teams, as well as school sports teams and church groups, he said.

The Holiday Store would stay - it was just the group bookings part that would no longer be based in the Blenheim office, he said.

He didn't want to move to Auckland so he decided early retirement was the best option.

"A lot of the positions that were available were in Auckland and I'm too old to be upping my tracks so I decided to just take an early retirement and move on to something new.

"I've got mixed emotions but I'm quite relaxed about it really."

Mr Curry began working for Air NZ in 1973 in Wellington. He moved to Nelson a year later and stayed there for 10 years before relocating to Auckland in 1984.

He moved to Blenheim in 1987 and has been here ever since.

Mr Curry said he had seen a lot of change over the years.

Fruit orchards, minimal vineyards and small retail shops were all Blenheim had to offer when he arrived in 1987, Mr Curry said.

"We were just a small rural town."

But soon after vineyards dominated farmland and large department stores moved in, he said.

"It [the wine industry] just absolutely bloomed in the 90s. It just absolutely took off, hugely. I have seen a lot of change."

But the biggest change had to be technology, he said.

"Coming from an era with piston engine planes to huge jets, I think the technology that the airline industry has gone through is unbelievable."

He had been part of some unforgettable moments as well.

"The two things that had the most effect on everybody was the Airbus crash and the other thing was the Ansett debacle back in 2000. We didn't know if we had jobs and they were fighting over us.

"They were two totally different events but they had a huge profound effect on everybody. I can remember them like it was yesterday."

Mr Curry said he was ready for the next chapter.

"I want to enjoy retirement because I'm closer to the end than the beginning and so you need to fit a lot into that short time."

Mr Curry and his wife planned to move to Nelson to work for his son in his restaurant, he said.

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"I don't know which side of the bar I'll be on but I will be there. So he wants me to go and work over there and I'm quite looking forward to a new challenge."

In a year's time he hoped to be touring the South Island with a caravan.

He also wants to head overseas to Shanghai to tick the Great Wall of China off his bucket list, he said.

He has travelled to Australia, the United States, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Japan and to the Pacific Islands, but never China.

Mr Curry's "last little effort" was to organise one final booking, a charter to Macau.

"That was me signing off."

- Marlborough

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