Air New Zealand has confirmed plans to shutter its long-established London crew base with the loss of 130 jobs. In addition, a further 25 jobs at its Hammersmith sales office and ground team will be lost when the Kiwi airline ends its London-Los Angeles route in October 2020. Air New Zealand said it had made the “difficult decision” in order to “direct capacity to faster-growing markets”.
The airline has operated between the two cities since 1982 and described the service as a “flagship route” but has decided to withdraw from the market because of changing travel habits. “Today, Kiwis have more than twice the number of ways to fly to London than a decade ago and preferences have changed,” Air New Zealand’s acting chief executive, Jeff McDowall said in a statement.
“At the same time, the Atlantic has become one of the most hotly contested routes in the world and Air New Zealand lacks the home market advantages and scale of the North American and European airlines we’re up against.”
McDowell says the airline has now started consulting with those affected by the base closure and is working with the trade union that represents London-based staff. He noted that there may be an opportunity for some staffers to move to other areas of the business.
“Air New Zealand has chosen to announce the withdrawal more than a year in advance to allow time to support its people,” a statement issued by the airline continued.
From October 2020, the airline plans to start flying direct from New Zealand to New York City, pending approval from aviation regulators and landing slot confirmation. McDowell said that New York has long been an “aspiration” for the carrier and that freeing up capacity from its Atlantic route would “make this milestone a reality.”
According to the airline, visitor numbers to New Zealand from Nort America have been growing the strongest. The carrier has also been buoyed by its new service to Chicago exceeding expectations.
If given the go-ahead, Air New Zealand will operate fly to New York Newark Liberty three times per week from Auckland using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Some jobs will be retained in the UK as it remains a “significant” sales region with more than two-thirds of revenue coming from sales unrelated to its London-Los Angeles service.