Air NZ boss Greg Foran praises staff after toughest year ever

Passenger numbers plummeted thanks to the turbulence of 2020

Air NZ boss Greg Foran praises staff after toughest year ever

Air NZ’s CEO Greg Foran has reflected on a tough year after passenger numbers dropped by more than 50%.

As a result of border closures, the number of international flights dropped from 30,000 to 9,586.

The total number of passengers fell from 17.6 million in 2019 to 8.4 million the following year, despite a strong domestic recovery once the stage four lockdown came to an end.

The pandemic sparked more than 400 job losses for Air NZ workers as flights were grounded and cost-saving measures introduced.

Releasing the latest figures, Foran praised Air NZ employees battling through 2020.

“What Air New Zealanders managed to achieve in such a dynamic environment and up against so many challenges is just phenomenal,” he said.

“Returning to usual levels of air travel will be complex, but we are working closely with government agencies on preparations for safe travel.

“In the meantime, we are using this time to ensure the Air New Zealand that emerges from COVID-19 is stronger than ever before and will continue to enrich the country, connecting New Zealanders with each other and New Zealand with the world.”

Read more: Air NZ names Nikki Dines as new CPO

Air NZ played a role in bringing Kiwis home from other parts of the world, operating 29 repatriation flights.

The airline brought more than ten million items of PPE into the country at the height of the pandemic.

It stepped up cargo operations with the government to help maintain international trade links.

In June 2020, Air NZ reported its biggest ever loss of $454 million for the year.

It’s the first time the national carrier has been in the red since 2002 and marked a 264% drop on 2019’s profit.

While it was hoped a Trans-Tasman travel bubble could boost activity for Air NZ and airlines in Australia, the latest COVID-19 outbreak across the ditch has cast doubt over those plans.

Read more: Air NZ defends issuing share rights to CEO Greg Foran after job losses

Before Christmas, Air NZ began recalling staff for refresher training after Jacinda Arden confirmed a two-way bubble had been agreed “in principle”.

Australia’s Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins has indicated that the plans to re-establish travel between the two countries are still underway.

But Ardern has previously said it would only go ahead with states which had recorded 28-days with no community transmission, meaning Sydney could be off the cards for some time.

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