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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Air New Zealand Boeing Dreamliner 787 takes off from Auckland Airport in New Zealand © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Air New Zealand Boeing Dreamliner 787 takes off from Auckland Airport in New Zealand

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Air New Zealand Ltd (NZ:AIR) said on Wednesday it aims to cut up to 385 more cabin crew jobs due to the lack of long-haul international flying, which would take its COVID-19 related job losses to around 37% of its workforce.

The percentage figure is higher than the cuts to nearly 30% of jobs at Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd (AX:QAN) and around 20% at Singapore Airlines Ltd (SI:SIAL).

Air New Zealand said in a statement it would need fewer cabin crew due to the decline in demand on North American routes, which had led it to reduce return flights to Los Angeles to three a week from daily and convert San Francisco flights to cargo only.

"In the foreseeable future, we have around 385 more widebody cabin crew in the business than we have work for," an airline spokeswoman said. "Any decision we make will be made in consultation with our people and the unions, with redundancies as the last resort."  

E tū, the union representing flight attendants, said in a statement the latest job cuts are proposed to be carried out by December. It called on Air New Zealand to stop outsourcing work to a cabin crew hire company in Shanghai.

Air New Zealand declined to comment on the timing of the planned cuts. The airline had announced 4,000 job losses before the latest proposal to cut cabin crew.

The airline said last week it would extend the grounding of its Boeing Co (N:BA) 777 fleet until at least Sept. 2021 due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, though it has a fleet of 787-9s it can use for long-haul flying.

Its prospects in the domestic market were boosted this week by the end of a requirement for physical distancing on flights that will allow it to sell all of the seats.

Air New Zealand said on Tuesday it would fly a domestic schedule of around 70-75% of normal levels, while Qantas-owned low-cost rival Jetstar Airways said it would resume domestic services from Sept. 17 at around 60% of normal levels.


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