While the airline industry is awash with strike actions, Air New Zealand and the Flight Attendants Association of New Zealand have taken a different approach. Importing cabin crew from another country is literally a ‘red rag to a bull’ in most situations, but not in this one.
As reported in the New Zealand Herald yesterday, Air New Zealand has brought in around 20 of its Shanghai-based cabin crew to operate flights from Auckland. The airline said that despite holding weekly recruitment events to increase New Zealand cabin crew numbers, it simply couldn’t fill the roles locally in time for the peak summer season.
All part of the Air New Zealand Family
Photo: Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand’s (ANZ) chief people officer Nikki Dines said the airline had hired or rehired more than 2,100 pilots, cabin crew, airport and contact center staff and engineers, with more than 1,110 cabin crew returning this year. She added,
“Our training facility is humming, and we’re going as fast as we can to get people onboard. Our experienced Shanghai-based flight attendants, who flew for Air New Zealand pre-COVID, are stepping up to help.”
On the surface, this may sound controversial and something that the government or union would not agree to, so how has it happened this time? ANZ said that Immigration New Zealand had approved the Shanghai flight attendants working for the airline during the summer because it was “satisfied there will not be any negative impact on job opportunities for New Zealanders.” Dines also said:
“These flight attendants are very much part of the Air New Zealand family, and they will be seconded to work in New Zealand for a short period to help us over the busy summer period as we continue to recruit and train both previous and new crew.”
ANZ has kept China links open
Somehow, Air New Zealand has managed to keep its Auckland to Shanghai route going throughout 2021 and 2022 and is currently operating it four times weekly. Saturday’s flight NZ289 departed Auckland Airport (AKL) 17 minutes late at 00:02 on Sunday for the 11:41 hour flight to Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG). The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, registration ZK-NZG, made up time to land 22 minutes early at 06:43. It returned to Auckland as flight NZ228, arriving at 06:08 this morning.
Flight Attendants Association of NZ president Craig Featherby said ANZ had consulted the association on the move and the number of staff coming down from Shanghai. “It’s literally the bare minimum, and that’s why we agreed to it,” he said. While these flight attendants are not part of the association, Featherby said it would offer any support or help they needed.
However, not everyone is thrilled about having the non-unionized Shanghai staff working in Auckland. The major union representing New Zealand aviation workers is E tu, whose members include cabin crew, airport workers, catering staff and engineers. Union aviation team leader Scott Mackie said the airline had brought the Shanghai crew back to NZ instead of rehiring former ANZ staff based in Auckland. Taking the glass half-empty approach, Mackie said:
“The Shanghai crew are less versatile than other crew, as for immigration reasons, they are unable to fly to Taiwan or any Canadian or United States destination.”
Adding capacity to lessen disruptions
Dines said that while there were some visa restrictions, that would not impact the crew’s productivity or their ability to “deliver a valued flying experience for our customers.” Air New Zealand is working hard to minimize disruptions to its customers, and bringing these crews in adds flexibility to cover staff shortages as they arise.
In the same vein, the airline has added a wet-leased Airbus A330-200, with crews, from Spanish charter operator Wamos Air. The widebody will add an extra 280 seats into ANZ’s capacity and operate the Auckland to Perth route, freeing up a 787-9 for other duties.
We would love to hear your thoughts about ANZ using the Shangai crews.
Source: New Zealand Herald
Air New Zealand
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport, Wellington Airport
- Year Founded:
- Star Alliance
- Greg Foran
- New Zealand