A former Air New Zealand flight attendant has grabbed the attention and praise of her old boss after she shared a TikTok video of her swapping the aisle of a plane for the aisles of a supermarket. Sarah Jones of Auckland, New Zealand was recently laid off by the national flag carrier because of the Coronavirus pandemic but has since found work at a local supermarket, an industry that Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran spent 41 years working in.
The short TikTok video shows a side-by-side clip of Sarah dancing to the same song and choreography – on one side in her Air New Zealand flight attendant uniform and on the other, the rather less glamorous high visibility garb that she has to wear as a supermarket shelf-stacker.
Air New Zealand recently laid off nearly 1,500 flight attendants in response to the Corona crisis that has battered the aviation industry worldwide. New Zealand has been particularly badly affected because its success in battling the deadly virus also comes with strict border controls that has all but stopped international travel.
Foran believes the airline will shrink by as much as 70 per cent in the next couple of years. At the height of the pandemic, Air New Zealand carried just 1.4 per cent of its usual passenger numbers, although domestic capacity is set to hit 55 per cent of pre-Corona levels in July and August.
International travel may take much longer to recover.
“I love it,” wrote Foran in an emailed to Sarah in response to her TikTok and which she later shared on Instagram. “Good on you for making a difference,” the email continued.
“As you may know I spent 41 years being a shop keeper and am very familiar with the role. Hope we can get you back flying again with us real soon though,” the note ended.
Before joining Air New Zealand last year, Foran had been working at supermarket behemoth Walmart where he had been the chief executive and president of its U.S. division since 2014.
Sarah’s story certainly isn’t unusual at the moment but the response from an airline leader most definitely is. Hopefully, Air New Zealand will be able to offer Sarah her old job back sooner rather than later.
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.