Air NZ moves to cuts flights, staff

Ben McKay

Air New Zealand will reduce flights to Australia, slashing long-haul capacity by 85 per cent and making redundancies as COVID-19 all but kills demand for air travel.

New Zealand's flag carrier placed itself in a trading halt on Monday morning "to allow it time to more fully assess the operational and financial impacts of global travel restrictions".

The Pilots Association later revealed Air NZ was looking at cutting a third of its workforce of around 12,000, which would "not be a short term measure".

The airline announced plans to "significantly reduce" trans-Tasman flights, and operate a bare bones network to Asia and North America.

It will end flights between Auckland and Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, Tokyo Narita, Honolulu, Denpasar and Taipei from March 30 for three months.

Domestic capacity will be cut by a third but all destinations will remain.

Air NZ chief executive Greg Foran said the business was in discussions with the government for support.

"We are now accepting that for the coming months at least Air New Zealand will be a smaller airline requiring fewer resources, including people," he said.

"We are a nimble airline with a lean cost base, strong balance sheet, good cash reserves, an outstanding brand and a team going above and beyond every day."

Mr Foran said the airline would work with unions as it planned major job cuts.

"These are unprecedented times that we are all having to navigate," he said.