The decision of Air NZ to transfer its heavy aviation maintenance work for turbo propped aircraft like the ATRs and Q300s to Christchurch is a brutal blow for the Nelson region says MP Nick Smith.
“This decision will directly cost Nelson 100 high paying jobs and $10m a year in regional income and far larger flow on impacts. It is not surprising that Air NZ is down-sizing its aircraft maintenance with the global collapse in aviation but we are very disappointed at the closure of Nelson’s heavy maintenance facility. The worry is that we will not recover these skilled jobs when the Covid-19 emergency is behind us. The only consolation is the retention of the light overnight maintenance.
“I remain confident about the retention of air services in and out of Nelson. Our geographical location makes travel by air to our main centres like Auckland Wellington and Christchurch attractive and viable. Nelson will retain a strong domestic tourism sector and will in time recover its international tourism business.
“My hope is that this proposal may be reconsidered by the Government that is the majority shareholder and which is providing hundreds of millions of dollars of financial support for Air NZ. These jobs are critical to regional New Zealand and we should be leaving the door open to this heavy engineering work being returned to Nelson.
“This proposal by Air NZ also reinforces the need for the Government to take an industry wide perspective to its $600 million support package. Airlines like Sounds Air and Origin now become more important to regions like Nelson. The Government needs to ensure these smaller airlines have significant support to get through this Covid-19 emergency and help recovery of the regions.”