The closure of Air New Zealand’s London cabin crew base of 130 flight attendants has been brought forward by more than six months due to the impact of coronavirus and global travel restrictions.

London-based cabin crew will operate their final service on the Auckland route via Los Angeles tomorrow (Friday).

A New Zealand-based crew will work on the remaining flight on March 21 and the route will then be suspended until June 30.


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Air New Zealand had planned to close the cabin crew base with its withdrawal from the London route in October.

But the airline’s cabin crew general manager Leeanne Langridge said the past few weeks have presented an unsettling period for many staff in unprecedented times for the airline.

“The increasing travel restrictions due to Covid-19 are having a significant impact on bookings and flight cancellations,” she admitted.

“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.

“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.”

Air New Zealand is reviewing its cost base in response to coronavirus and is working with unions on a range of measures to cut its staff bill by 30% – potentially affecting about 3,750 of the 12,500-strong workforce.

Shares paused

The airline’s shares were placed in a trading halt on Monday “to allow it time to fully assess the operational and financial impacts of global travel restrictions”.

The trading halt remains in place amid plans to cut long-haul capacity by 85%, flights between New Zealand and Australia by 80% and domestic services by 30% in April and May.