Air New Zealand planes at Christchurch International Airport. [Source: 1news]
Air New Zealand will reduce their flight schedule over the next six months due to staff illness.
The airline will operate with 1.5 per cent fewer seats than originally planned.
That means around 100,000 ticket holders out of 11 million bookings could have their flight cancelled.
Both Air New Zealand’s domestic and international schedule will operate at 90% of the pre-pandemic capacity for the next six months.
“Most customers who experience a flight change will be transferred to another flight on the same day for domestic travel, and for international travel, on the same day or a day either side of their original booking,” the airline said in a statement.
“Where customers cannot be accommodated within these timeframes, they may change their booking online, opt into credit or request a refund.”
Foran said the changes come amid the highest rate of crew sickness in more than 10 years.
“Like many airlines around the world, we’ve been ramping up our operation at a time when Covid and the flu continues to impact the aviation industry.
Looking at the disruptions our customers and staff have faced over the past five weeks, we’ve made some adjustments to reduce short-notice cancellations in the months ahead.
“While we did factor sickness into our ramp up plan, we’ve seen the highest rates of crew sickness in over a decade.
We see these challenges continuing not just for crew, but for our whole operation, and so we’re making proactive changes to address them.”
Foran says the airline is trying to recruit more staff. In June the airline started offering cash incentives of up to $1400 to entice new staff.
“We’re pulling out all the stops to minimise disruption and provide surety for our customers over the next six months.
We have rehired or brought on more than 2,000 pilots, airport staff, cabin crew, contact centre and engineers, and we’re going as fast as we can with recruitment and training, ” Foran said on Thursday.
“We’re also exploring options to lease a crewed widebody aircraft for the busy summer period.
We know customers want the Air New Zealand experience, and that’s what we want to deliver too.
But at the moment we’re stretched to capacity and making sure our customers are able to travel is our top priority.
The lease of an additional crewed aircraft may help us achieve that.”
In June Air New Zealand hiked its ticket prices, citing the rising fuel and other costs.
The airline said it costs twice as much to fuel a Dreamliner for an Auckland to LA trip than it did in 2020, leading to a “perfect storm” as demand increases and inflation bites.
“Other costs are going up too,” Foran said.
“This combined with high demand for flights, means you will see higher fares than usual across our network.