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New Zealand air traffic controllers volunteer to defer pay increase

Airways New Zealand has accepted an offer from its air traffic controllers to defer a planned pay increase in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the aviation sector.

New Zealand’s 371 air traffic controllers were due to receive a 2.8 per cent pay increase on April 1.

However this will not go ahead following an offer from the Air Traffic Control Council of the New Zealand Airline Pilots Association, on behalf of its members, to defer the pay increase for up to a year.

Temporary amendments to the collective agreement have also been accepted to allow for greater flexibility in staff rosters, minimising the risk of service disruption through the pandemic.

"I want to thank our air traffic controllers and NZALPA representatives for their quick response and the support they’ve shown as we navigate this extremely challenging time," Airways CEO Graeme Sumner says.

"This offer will help to ease the strain we are facing and ensure we can carry on providing an essential aviation service for New Zealand.

"In addition, Airways is enacting a range of measures to reduce any costs that can be achieved without affecting aviation safety."

Airways is fully self-funded through fees it charges to airlines and revenues have taken an unprecedented hit following the grounding of flights throughout New Zealand. International air traffic has dropped by 90 per cent in March, and domestic traffic has more than halved.

Last week the Government announced a $70 million support package for Airways to ensure the stability of New Zealand’s air traffic management services through the COVID-19 pandemic.

NZALPA’s ATC director Kelvin Vercoe says the loss of jobs across the global aviation industry is sobering.

"NZALPA has been at the forefront of the efforts to find a way through this event with Airways and with all airlines in New Zealand," he says.

"We are very pleased to be working so closely with Airways management, and we believe our collaborative relationship gives us the best chance of success."

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