Air New Zealand is planning to make 387 pilots redundant amid the coronavirus crisis, their union said today.

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) said it met with the carrier’s chief executive Greg Foran and his executive team several times on 6 April to discuss cost-cutting measures.

“NZALPA was told by Air New Zealand that they proposed to make 387 pilots redundant as ‘the most economically efficient surplus’ resulting from the proposed Air New Zealand flight schedule,” NZALPA president Andrew Ridling said.

The union said it would negotiate to lower that number and finalise the agreement process. It also wants Air New Zealand to set out conditions for pilots to return.

Ridling adds: “We have been very clear with chief executive Greg Foran and the Air New Zealand executive team from the beginning of this process: If we cannot save every job, NZALPA would fight to ensure there is a clear and transparent path back to Air New Zealand for all pilots who chose to return.”

Air New Zealand has slashed 95% of its flights and agreed standby government loan as it battles the drop in demand.

The airline expects to emerge as a smaller airline after the pandemic and said on 31 March that it plans to lay off 3,500 of its 12,500-strong workforce. It confirms to Cirium that it has started the consultation process on 6 April for that process but declined to provide further details.

Air New Zealand tells Cirium: “The airline, pre-Covid-19, employed 12,500 people around the world and it’s expected that even in a year’s time it will be at least 30 percent smaller than it is today.”

Separately, it announced the appointment of Joe McCollum as its new chief people officer from 14 April, taking over from Jodie King, who is moving to Vodafone New Zealand.

The carrier has also engaged employment relations practitioner Paul Diver to support McCollum during the current downsizing of its workforce.

McCollum previously held roles in human resources at telecommunications firm Spark and chemical company ICI.

Foran says in a statement: “Joe is no stranger to the type of large-scale, rapid workplace change that Air New Zealand has ahead in the wake of Covid-19. He will be a key member of the team to rebuild our airline.”