Air New Zealand today said it had decided to close down its London cabin crew base over six months earlier than originally planned. The airline cited, of course, the huge slump in demand caused by the Coronavirus pandemic for the reason behind its decision. Staffers were told of the airline’s plan on Wednesday before the decision was publicly announced.
London-based cabin crew operate on Air New Zealand’s flagship route between London Heathrow (LHR) and Los Angeles (LAX) – a route that the airline has operated since 1982.
The Kiwi flag carrier, however, announced its intention to shutter the London Heathrow to Los Angeles service last October owing to a need to ” direct capacity to faster-growing markets”. Air New Zealand said fierce competition on North Atlantic flights, as well increasing competition on other services between New Zealand and Europe meant the route was no longer tenable.
The route was slated to close in October 2020 with the loss of 130 cabin crew members based in London.
One of the reasons the airline announced it would be closing down its London cabin crew base with more than a year of notice was so that it could “support” its people and negotiate a deal with a trade union representing staffers.
That date has now been brought forward by over six months.
“While this is a tough decision, it’s important we take action now to responsibly manage Air New Zealand through this difficult period to maintain a national airline that is fit for the future,” explained the airline’s general manager of cabin crew Leeanne Langridge.
“Our London-based cabin crew have always gone above and beyond. They consistently provide exemplary service to our customers and we remain incredibly proud of the base. Our priority now is supporting our people and we’ll be working closely with them and their union,” she continued.
The final service operated by Air New Zealand’s London-based crew will be from LAX to LHR departing on March 20. A New Zealand-based crew will then operate the last flight from London the following day before the route is suspended.
Interestingly, the route has only been suspended until June – although this could be extended depending on how the Coronavirus pandemic develops.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.