Air NZ may close call centre

Air New Zealand today announced it is considering closing its Contact Centre in Christchurch in March next year following a decline in demand to its call centres. The Centre employs 86 staff and it is expected some of them would be given the opportunity to relocate to one of Air New Zealands two Auckland contact centres.

Air New Zealand will now enter into a period of consultation with staff and union representatives to seek feedback on the proposal before making a final decision on 3 November.

Group General Manager Norm Thompson said the Contact Centres had been assessed as part of Air New Zealands review of all parts of its operations as the airline seeks to reshape its business and become more responsive to changing trends in the industry.

A significant trend is the increasing number of our New Zealand customers who are booking on-line, with just under 50 percent now doing so for both domestic and trans-Tasman travel. Conversely we have noticed a marked decline in the total number of calls to our Contact Centres, in particular those originating within New Zealand, since we introduced internet bookings.

It therefore made sense for us to review how we currently manage telephone customer enquiries and better match our operations for future requirements. We looked at a number of options and the proposed consolidation of our three current sites to two locations in Auckland is the most realistic option, said Mr Thompson.

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Contact Centre staff manage travel-related enquiries, quotes, reservations, ticketing and flight confirmations as well as the handling of schedule changes and flight disrupts. The declining caller demand in recent years has resulted in reduced staff numbers employed in the airlines call centres, from around 150 people two years ago to 86 currently.

The Auckland Contact Centres provide 24/7 telephone assistance from all international destinations whereas the Christchurch Centre takes calls originating from New Zealand and is open extended day hours only.

For this reason, we propose that the purpose built Smales Farm (Auckland) site remains the prime location supported by a smaller centre in our new Head Office building. Christchurch does not have the same capability to be a realistic regional option, said Mr Thompson.
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