Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter.

Upfront with NZALPA President Tim Robinson

Dear Members

Welcome to 2017 and a fresh new look for NZALPA’s digital membership newsletter Uplink.  
As our public profile rises and our opinion is increasingly sought, we wanted to better reflect our union’s professionalism and service to members by providing improved access to information and essential ‘news you can use’.  
As signalled late last year, we’ve designed our communications to be more accessible via electronic formats and that provides you with news and views to inform and demonstrate the work NZALPA does on your behalf.

As well as these monthly updates, every quarter there will be a special printed publication, in soft and hard copy, with more in-depth articles and updates.  This will also inform stakeholders, influencers, Government agencies and wider aviation enthusiasts so they are better aware of the issues and activities that affect and interest our membership. 

As many of you know, we’ve also developed a mobile app for members. We’re looking forward to the results of the ‘pilot’ trial being undertaken by Air Nelson so it can be rolled out early 2017 across all of our membership (read about the app on page 12).

All these efforts underpin NZALPA‘s vision to truly be New Zealand’s ‘Voice of Aviation’. 

Good communications will be essential as we grapple with three specific issues likely to dominate 2017. All three will be subject to a number of backgrounders and updates throughout the year. 

First, pivotal Collective Employment Agreement (CEA) negotiations will begin shortly with Regional Link (Mount Cook and Air Nelson) and continue with Jetconnect; we’ll also commence bargaining with Virgin Australia (New Zealand) shortly.  There will be a number of General Aviation (GA) negotiations; preparations will be underway this year for the beginning of talks with Air New Zealand Jet, and on behalf of air traffic controllers (ATCs), with Airways (scheduled to begin in 2018).  It’s going to be a busy period where advocates will be stretched and we’ll have to make sure we’re resourced to achieve the best possible outcomes. 

Also this year, NZALPA representatives will continue to work alongside Air New Zealand Group management in further developing and defining the scope of the High Performance Engagement (HPE) policy with the airline’s overall employment engagement strategy. We have representatives on both the Leadership Team and Working Party as well as within the HPE project groups that have already completed work or who are currently involved in ongoing projects. The HPE trial for jet pilots concludes soon and the Air New Zealand Jet Council will be involved in the decision making as to their level’s ongoing involvement. ATCs will strive to best use Interest-based Problem-solving (IBPS) techniques that were introduced with Airways last year, as they work through the next phases of the Airways 2028 Project (read more on page 5).

Thirdly, NZALPA will need to become increasingly vocal on where we, as the New Zealand union, stand as more countries liberalise their airspace and potentially vote to implement the draft International Civil Aviation Organisation ( ICAO) Working Group Multi-lateral Global Open Skies Agreement. 

As an active member of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA), we share the concerns of our international colleagues about what the effects might be on the industry and the travelling public of liberal access by airlines to alternative national states with lower regulatory, safety and labour standards. We’ve already seen this in the shipping industry, where countries with less regulation and less robust safety standards become ‘flags of convenience’ for global shipping companies.  In the aviation industry this is already occurring in Europe, for example, where low-cost airlines have introduced cheaper consumer travel and more destination choices, but at the cost of markedly downgraded working conditions for staff and significantly lower safety regulation. 

Even in New Zealand the government has been clear about supporting liberalisation of its own airspace and the draft ICAO Multi-lateral Open Skies Agreement. NZALPA will continue to lobby the New Zealand Ministry of Transport, and through our founding signatory status to the Chicago Convention and ICAO, attempt to make sure limitations are realised and standards remain high.  We play an active role in a dedicated IFALPA Professional and Government Affairs Committee that is considering the implications of the Multi-lateral Open Skies Agreement and will clearly convey its findings to the ICAO Working Group.  This includes building a robust, but constructive, relationship with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and its representation of airline interests as many of their members pursue their goal of widening open skies policies further.
Major blocs of interests have formed, with United States airlines joining the concern of their aviation unions as foreign airlines and labour enters their domestic market.  Alternatively,  Middle Eastern and Gulf carriers are the most enthusiastic about opening global skies further, making  United Arab Emirates centres, such as Dubai, the premium global destination and hub. These national airlines have access to massive subsidies and enormous resources to lobby both government and commercial interests, even while they continue to operate at a loss.  There is also no unionism in the Gulf so staff employment terms and conditions are at the whim of airlines and market forces.
While we join other nations in recognising that growth is essential to the industry, NZALPA is clear that this needs to be sustainably managed and fair.  We don’t want to see a duopoly or small number of large airline players dominating the market.  We need to make our own government aware and to continue to be a strong voice within IFALPA. Together, we have the collective knowledge and experience of likely outcomes and must protect the pilot profession; ensure a level industry playing field; and that the safety of crew and the flying public is not compromised.  We’ll be looking at this in greater detail in the March issue of Uplink. 

One of NZALPA’s busiest years has begun and, as your President, I look forward to continuing to represent you, keeping members informed, and hearing your feedback and ideas.

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