A group of Air New Zealand cabin crew who have already spent the last eight days in Coronavirus quarantine and face another two weeks in isolation fear they will be made redundant as soon they are freed as the embattled airline slashes more jobs to stem mounting losses.
The head of the E tū union which represents Air New Zealand flight attendants said the airline was pressing ahead with plans to make as many as 380 more crew redundant, including the Boeing 787-trained flight attendants currently in quarantine.
“Pretty much on the day they get out of that two-week quarantine will then be made redundant, so this is the last two weeks of their job at Air New Zealand is sitting inside a hotel waiting to see if they’ve got Covid,” Savage told the New Zealand Herald on Thursday.
The flight attendants were placed into quarantine after working on the same flight to Shanghai as a crew member who later tested positive for COVID-19. The case has got officials scratching their heads as they try to work out how Air New Zealand’s strict health protocols failed to keep the crew member safe.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health says genome sequencing testing has been carried out after the crew member tested positive on November 18 and the results show that the infection has no link to any domestic case. Health officials say the crew member likely became infected overseas.
“They (flight attendants) undergo quite a lot of rigorous training, they wear a lot of PPE, they self isolate in hotels,” Savage explained.
“As soon as they get to a destination they’re effectively isolating from the crew that they travel with, staying in their hotel rooms and then just getting back on the flight, putting on PPE and coming back home and then getting tested again.”
All 14 crew members, including the infected flight attendant, returned to Auckland yesterday and were immediately placed into a managed quarantine hotel where they’ll stay for up to two weeks.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Air New Zealand has been forced to lay-off thousands of staff, although Savage hopes forthcoming vaccines might mean the airline can ramp up operations at some point next year. The airline’s entire fleet of Boeing 777s have been placed into longterm storage with all long-haul flights now operated by 787 Dreamliner’s.
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.