Air New Zealand to cut 180 engineering jobs in Auckland

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Air New Zealand plans to cut 180 jobs from its heavy maintenance operations in Auckland as it retires older widebody aircraft and sees less demand for third-party work.

The Star Alliance carrier said in a statement that it has begun consultations with its staff on the retrenchments, which are expected to begin in July 2014.

"The proposed changes reflect a projected drop in future demand for widebody maintenance services both from within Air New Zealand and from external maintenance customers," the airline says. "This is largely due to Air New Zealand and its customers introducing more modern aircraft to their fleets, which require less frequent maintenance."

The carrier is phasing out its older Boeing 747-400s and 767-300ERs as it takes delivery of more Boeing 777s and prepares to add Boeing 787-9s from mid-2014. It has also lost some third-party work, which the engineers' union blames on the relative strength of the New Zealand currency against the US dollar.

The airline, however, denies that it plans to close the Auckland facility. Air New Zealand also has a narrowbody heavy maintenance facility in Christchurch, but it has not announced similar redundancies there.

The Air New Zealand announcement comes weeks after Australian MRO company John Holland Aviation Services announced that it was cutting 40 engineering and technical positions at its Melbourne Tullamarine base as it moves to focus on in-country maintenance.