Pilots' jobs safe in air link rethink
Changes to Air Nelson services to Hawke's Bay and the future of the Napier crew base will not mean job losses for the Link operator's crew, Air New Zealand has confirmed.
It has recently begun a consultation process with Air Nelson's Napier-based pilots and cabin crew on some coming operational changes to its Hawke's Bay services.
From February the airline plans to change some existing Q300 services [operated by Air Nelson] to larger ATR72 aircraft [operated by Mt Cook Airline] to increase seat capacity and stimulate demand for the region.
Air New Zealand communications spokesperson Emma Field said as a result of pending changes to the Hawke's Bay route, there could be some impact to the Napier pilot and crew base.
"We are currently in discussions with both staff and regional stakeholders to explore possible options," Field said
"A decision has not yet been made on the future of this crew base, though any changes will not result in job losses for Air Nelson crew."
The combined turbo prop fleet operated by the three Link operators is made up of 23 Q300 aircraft operated by Air Nelson, Eagle Air's 18 Beech 1900D aircraft, and Mt Cook's 14 ATR72s.
The three Air New Zealand Link operators have formed closer ties in recent years, with advantages found in being able to share aircraft as demand dictates, the Link operations general manager Sarah Williamson said earlier this year.
There are no changes currently planned in other ports the Q300 fleet operates to, Field said.
The regional service recently announced a 9.1 per cent increased capacity on the Nelson to Auckland route over the next year, which would equal more than 30,000 additional seats a year in both directions. It would happen as a result of streamlining aircraft used by the three Link operators.
In response to a question from the Nelson Mail Field said there were no current plans to reduce the size of Air New Zealand's Nelson base.
"Nelson is the sixth busiest port in New Zealand [for the airline] and we see it as a key port for growth.
"It is not our intention to reduce services into Nelson Airport - in fact the number of seats to and from Nelson has increased over the past two years," Field said.
She said providing demand for air services to and from the city continued to grow, the airline would continue to match that with additional capacity.
"We are also hoping to grow the engineering part of our business by attracting third party heavy maintenance work," Field said.
Air Nelson Technical is Air New Zealand's largest engineering base for its regional airline services.
It carries out maintenance on its own fleet of 23 Q300 aircraft, and the ATR fleet.
The contract to maintain the ATR aircraft was made possible by the construction of Air Nelson's $12 million hangar, opened in 2010.
Air Nelson said at the time the hangar expansion had the potential to add about another $10m annually to the Nelson economy.
- The Nelson Mail
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