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Air New Zealand Celebrates it 80th Aniversary But Birthday Party is Cancelled

Air New Zealand Celebrates it 80th Aniversary But Birthday Party is Cancelled

Eighty years ago today, Air New Zealand – or as it was known back then, Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) – launched its inaugural service between Auckland Harbour and Sydney’s Rose Bay on a nine-hour flight aboard a Short S30 flying boat. Thursday, April 30 should have been a day of celebration for Air New Zealand but instead, the anniversary is one of reflection as the Kiwi national carrier navigates through the COVID-19 crisis.

The efforts of New Zealand’s government to impose a strict lockdown and travel restrictions early have stopped the novel Coronavirus from having a devastating impact on the country but there’s no doubt that those life-saving policies could change Air New Zealand for many years to come.

As the airline turns 80 years old, it will in turn go back in time, significantly downsizing to levels not seen for many decades. In the coming months, the airline will lay-off a third of its 3,500 strong workforce. Up to 1,500 cabin crew jiobs will be lost and all of the airline Boeing 777 crew have been told their services will no longer be required.

Air New Zealand is likely to shrink significantly in size and its distinctive black aircraft will be seen in far fewer cities around the world. For now, the airline handles just a handful of domestic flights – at one point, the airline was carrying just 1.4 per cent of the usual 48,000 passengers on its domestic network.

“While this birthday sees the airline operating in some of the most extraordinary circumstances in its 80-year history, the heart and passion of our people remain as strong as it was on that historic first day of operation,” commented Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Mike Tod.

“The Kiwi can-do spirit is woven into everything we do and we look forward to building on the legacy of the past 80 years as we open a new chapter in our airline’s history and begin the rebuilding process after the severe impact of Covid-19,” he continued.

Perhaps most famously known in recent years for its eye-catching and humorous safety videos, including the infamous Nothing to Hide video featuring crew dressed in nothing but bodypaint.

Air New Zealand was also the airline to have a plane painted in black and back in 1961, Air New Zealand’s cabin crew became the first “hostesses” to be dressed in uniforms designed by Christian Dior. Back then, the airline even flew passengers and their cars across the Cook Strait.

What the future will look like for Air New Zealand remains, sadly, uncertain for now.

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