Air New Zealand is reducing its flight schedule over the next six months to deal with staff illness

Around 100,000 people will be affected as Air New Zealand cuts flights from its schedule due to staff illness.

The airline says that by reducing the number of flights, it will be able to have a crew on standby to cover illnesses, which has not been possible in recent times.
Photo: Unsplash / Douglas Bagg

The airline will operate a reduced schedule for the next six months.

There will be changes on some flights, where there will be 1.5% fewer seats than originally planned.

For domestic travelers whose flights are moved, they will most likely be transferred to another on the same day, and for international travelers, it will likely be the same day or more or less a day from their original booking.

If travelers’ flights could not be rearranged within that timeframe, customers could rebook online, opt for a credit or request a refund, the airline said.

If you booked through a travel agency, you will need to contact them if changes are needed or request a refund if you are eligible.

It’s been a tough five weeks, with illness and bad weather having had a big impact on the airline, chief executive Greg Foran said. Morning report.

“We really want to avoid getting into a situation, especially at Christmas, where we can’t get people to where they need to be,” Foran said.

While domestic travelers will be reimbursed if they cannot travel on the same day, Foran said someone whose original flight was in the morning would not be able to get a refund if, for example, they are rescheduled for a flight in evening the same day.

Those with other onward connections may also be disrupted and Air NZ said it will work directly with affected customers.

The airline has beefed up call center staff to help with some of the connections and wait times have gone down, he said.

Foran said in a statement earlier that by reducing the number of flights, the airline would be able to have crew on standby to cover illnesses, which had not been possible in recent times.

This announcement would help customers know how to manage their travel plans accordingly, he said.

“Given the disruption our customers and staff have faced over the past five weeks, we have made some adjustments to reduce short-notice cancellations in the coming months.”

Crew sickness rates had been the highest in more than a decade and they were stretched to capacity, Foran said.

“We see these challenges continue not just for the crew, but for our entire operations, so we are making proactive changes to address them.”

More than 2,000 pilots, airport staff, flight personnel, engineers have been rehired or employed, he said.

“We are also exploring options to lease a full-body jumbo jet for the busy summer period.”

Air New Zealand plans to operate at 90% of its pre-Covid capacity for the next six months in its domestic and international schedules.

Foran said that over the past two and a half years in his role, he has learned to “always be ready for the next side sweep in aviation”.

“[It’s] very hard to predict what’s going to happen with Covid, very hard to predict disease rates overall, but what we can and are doing is building some extra insurance so I have more confidence with these actions by tweaking the system a bit here, so I will if we don’t change the system.”

Last month, the peak of school holidays and winter illnesses caused travel disruption across the country.

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