Just as it is heading for the busy (southern hemisphere) summer period, Air New Zealand is forced to reduce capacity by 1.5 percent in the coming six months. The airline says it is confronted with the highest levels of sickness leave for over a decade. Covid and flu cast a shadow over Air New Zealand’s summer plans.
ANZ announced the capacity cuts as early as today, just to prepare its customers for what to expect in the coming months. The airline tries to minimize the impact, saying in a media statement: “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. Where customers cannot be accommodated within these timeframes, they may change their booking online, opt into credit, or request a refund.”
New Zealand has been suffering from rising Covid cases and flu infections since July again. After a record-peak in April, infections dropped swiftly between late May and the end of June, only to pick up again in July, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health. On Wednesday, some 4.900 confirmed new cases were reported.
“While we did factor sickness into our ramp-up plan, we have 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 are making proactive changes to address them”, ANZ CEO Greg Foran says.
Reducing capacity offers Air New Zealand more crew on standby, which should help it to maintain the flight schedule. The carrier says it is exploring options to wet-lease a widebody aircraft during the coming and busy summer season (December-March). “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”, says Foran.
The carrier said on Wednesday that it will bring four Boeing 777-300ERs back from storage in Victorville (US) and return them to service. Air New Zealand has seven -300ERs, of which only two are active. In February, it reported a $-272 million statutory net loss and revenues of $1.125 billion, down by 26 percent as the airline was heavily impacted by the country’s 107-day lockdown and travel restrictions.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.