Tougher travel restrictions came into effect at 1am today in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, with most travellers being required to self-isolate for 14 days. Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

Air New Zealand has placed itself into a share trading halt to allow it to assess the operational and financial impacts of global travel restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.

The airline is further slashing services as the Covid-19 outbreak cuts travel demand.

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Tougher travel restrictions came into effect at 1am today in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, with most travellers being required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Air NZ warned of layoffs as announced it was cutting its long haul capacity by 85 percent.

It would suspend flights between Auckland and Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, Tokyo Narita, Honolulu, Denpasar and Taipei from 30 March to 30 June.

However, it would operate a minimal schedule to allow New Zealanders to return home and to keep trade corridors with Asia and North America open.

The domestic network capacity would be reduced by about 30 percent in April and May, but no routes would be suspended.

The Tasman and Pacific Island network capacity would significantly reduce between April and June, with details to be announced later this week.

As a result of the downturn in travel, the company said it would review its cost base and begin the process of redundancies for permanent positions, and was working with four unions representing 8,000 members of its workforce of 12,500.

“These are unprecedented times that we are all having to navigate,” Air NZ chief executive Greg Foran said.

“And it is clear that if we don’t take all the appropriate measures to lower costs and to drive revenue, our airline won’t be in the best position to accelerate forward once we are through the worst of the impact of Covid-19.”

As part of Air New Zealand’s cost savings initiatives the board of directors would take a 15 percent pay cut until the end of this calendar year.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the government was working closely with the aviation industry.

“Myself and the minister of transport are working alongside officials to make sure that we have the air routes available to get New Zealanders back here and to get those who need to leave here to be able to leave – and particularly, to make sure that cargo is able to be moved by air over the coming months,” he told Morning Report.

“In terms of Air New Zealand specifically, yes I do have a role there as the shareholding minister, and we are in discussions with Air New Zealand at this time.”

Auckland Airport has suspended its earnings guidance, cancelling the update it provided last Friday.

The company said the decision was in response to unprecedented border restrictions.

The announcement follows Friday’s $50 million downgrade to the full year underlying profit outlook to between $210m and $235m.

Chief executive Adrian Littlewood said the company was in communication with some 30 airlines that fly routes to the airport but it was too early to judge the impact on future passenger and cargo air services.

“The future is very uncertain and our industry and government are pulling together so we can manage our way through this period and ensure we are in a strong position to rebuild, when the recovery phase eventuates,” he said.

“We are working through what the changes mean for our organisation to ensure we remain resilient through this challenging period.”

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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