Christmas chaos at Air NZ as strike action looms

Long Lunch 11/12/2018
Photo: Reuters.

Holidaymakers are panicking after Air New Zealand engineers announced plans to strike just before Christmas.

Union workers informed the airline last week of a total strike by almost 1000 employees on Friday, December 21. Air New Zealand says urgent talks are underway to prevent strike action during the busiest travel time of the year.

Aviation New Zealand chief executive John Nicholson says the announcement seems to have come from out of the blue.

“What we’ve heard from Air New Zealand in the past has been that it seems to be a pretty happy company and everyone’s aligned and doing things together,” he told RadioLIVE.

It’s come as a bit of surprise.

Mr Nicholson says looming strike action will likely impact travelers’ plans.

“I’d like to think that both parties can get together in the one room and talk constructively.”

“As people look towards the Christmas break they want certainty around their travel arrangements. A lot of people will be feeling uncertain and unsure, and I imagine a number of people will be looking at the bookings they have to see what flexibility and what other travel alternatives they might be able to put in place,” Mr Nicholson said.

Air New Zealand says the average income of the staff prepared to go on strike is $115,000but the Aviation and Marine Engineers Association said a lot of that salary is based on overtime.

It’s understood the strike on December 21 would affect nearly 42,000 people.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Long Lunch with Carly Flynn, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.