Air New Zealand will take legal action to avert a 48 hour strike by members of the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) from 4.00am Friday, 19 July, to 4.00am on Sunday, 21 July.
Air New Zealand`s decision to apply to the Employment Court for an injunction to avert the ALPA strike follows discussions yesterday between representatives of both parties, at which ALPA representatives rejected Air New Zealand`s appeal to withdraw their notice of strike and continue bargaining for a collective agreement.
Air New Zealand hoped to achieve a return to the bargaining table because ALPA and its members appeared to Air New Zealand to be operating on a misconception that their job security and promotional prospects were adversely affected by the airline group`s development plans.
Yesterday, Air New Zealand advised ALPA that its development plan for the next year envisages an increase in the amount of flying available to ALPA members employed by the Air New Zealand international and national airlines, and did not involve an expansion of the jet fleet operated by the subsidiary company Freedom Air.
In an effort to provide further reassurance to ALPA pilots, Air New Zealand tabled a new proposal to assist in facilitating work for pilots at Freedom Air, in the event that Air New Zealand changed its current plans, Freedom Air expanded its operations and there was a surplus of pilots in the Air New Zealand international and national airline operations.
Despite Air New Zealand`s assurances regarding its development plan for the next year and the new proposal about pilot work at Freedom Air in the event of a change of plan, ALPA declined to withdraw its notice of strike action and return to the bargaining table.
Under these circumstances, Air New Zealand considers it has no alternative but to initiate legal action in the Employment Court, and will seek an injunction to avert what it sees as an unnecessary, unjustified and unlawful strike.
The company intends to use all means at its disposal to avert the planned ALPA pilots` strike, and, if that is not possible, to minimise its impact on air travel on a weekend when New Zealand is in the final phases of a general election campaign and a major international rugby test between the All Blacks and the Springboks is scheduled in Wellington.
Air New Zealand is initiating contingency planning to minimise disruption to passengers booked to fly on its international and national jet airline services during the period when ALPA members intend to strike.
Air New Zealand subsidiary companies - Freedom Air, Mount Cook, Air Nelson, and Eagle Air - are not affected by the ALPA strike notice, and Air New Zealand itself employs a significant number of pilots on individual contracts or on a separate collective employment agreement with the Federation of Airline Pilots of New Zealand who will be available for flight duty during the period of the ALPA strike.
Details of flight schedules that will be operated by Air New Zealand airlines and the subsidiary company airlines, and other arrangements to enable passengers to travel during the strike period will be announced shortly.