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NZALPA Statement – Over 400 New Zealand Pilots Out Of Work Due To COVID-19

Friday 20 March 2020

“Over 400 New Zealand pilots are about to “fall through the gap”, caught between Canberra and Wellington responses to the COVID-19 pandemic,” NZALPA President Captain Andrew Ridling said today.


“We are very concerned about the potential loss of jobs for our 208 Virgin Australia New Zealand (VANZ), 127 Jetconnect and 81 Jetstar pilot members.

New Zealand is in real danger of losing highly trained and specialist professional pilots.  This will happen if they are forced to go overseas and work for airlines in recovering offshore markets, if there is no employment incentive to stay,” Captain Ridling said. 

Earlier this week Qantas, of which Jetconnect Ltd and Jetstar are wholly-owned subsidiaries, announced its international capacity would be reduced by 100 per cent from the end of March to at least the end of May 2020. 

Virgin announced on Wednesday that staff redundancies would be “unavoidableafter all its international flights are suspended from March 30 to June 14, 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19. 

“VANZ operates trans-Tasman and Pacific Island flights, and our Jetconnect members fly trans-Tasman on behalf of Qantas. With both these airlines forced to ground their entire international operations, the pilots’ livelihoods are now in jeopardy if they remain in New Zealand.


“Neither Canberra nor Wellington are putting steps in place to support these highly trained and dedicated professionals.


“While we understand the pressure New Zealand is under at the moment we will suffer even more economically if we lose these extremely valuable employees.


“New Zealand is a country built on export innovation and a strong tourism sector that is currently in peril.   


“We will remain in peril without a strong aviation sector that can rapidly respond once the recovery begins,” Captain Ridling said. 


Media contact:  Lisa-Marie Richan 027 2780441 

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