Air New Zealand engineering subsidiary Safe Air in Blenheim is planning to reduce its workforce by around 100 positions.
Air New Zealand Group General Manager Technical Operations Vanessa Stoddart says consultation began with staff this morning on reducing the workforce of 351 by around 100 positions as a result of over 18 months of delays in the delivery of Royal New Zealand Air Force C130 aircraft for major upgrade work under the contract with Canadian company, SPAR Aerospace.
The lead contractor in the C130 overhaul programme, SPAR notified Safe Air of an indefinite postponement to the programme on 21 December 2009.
SPAR Aerospace in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence awarded Safe Air the contract in 2005 to carry out the work on four RNZAF C130 aircraft. As a result Safe Air increased its workforce and made significant investments in equipment and facilities for the planned arrival of the first aircraft in August 2008. The schedule of work to be carried out by Safe Air included major structural refurbishments, such as the replacement of the centre wing, as well as modifications to major avionics systems, including installation of a new "glass" flight deck, navigation and communication suites and night vision.
“We were advised of successive delays for the scheduled arrival of the first aircraft culminating in the advice in December that the first aircraft was delayed indefinitely. We have worked hard to mitigate the impact of this lengthy delay through generating additional work for Safe Air, including transferring Air New Zealand aircraft maintenance to Blenheim to keep staff employed while awaiting the arrival of these military aircraft. On top of this we have also provided opportunities for Safe Air staff to work at our Auckland and Christchurch engineering bases,” says Ms Stoddart.
“However, due to the uncertainty of work in the pipeline created by the SPAR notification, we have now reached the point where we need to reduce the workforce by around 100 people. If we don’t make this tough move, Safe Air will incur significant losses that would put the jobs of the remaining workforce in jeopardy.”
Consultation with the affected staff and their union representatives is expected to conclude in March, when a final decision on the exact number of job losses will be determined.