Air New Zealand says Nelson will remain the airlines largest regional presence. Photo: File.

Air New Zealand confirms Nelson hub closure

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Air New Zealand has confirmed that it will move its regional aircraft hub form Nelson to Christchurch, meaning a loss of 89 jobs.

The airline said that it had let staff know that the turboprop heavy maintenance work will start moving to Christchurch from mid to late 2020, with the transition taking between six and nine months.

A spokesperson said as a result of this, 89 roles in Nelson will be disestablished. Of these, 15 Q300 specialists are able to be redeployed to Christchurch.

“Demand for aircraft maintenance contract work has deteriorated, including in Nelson,” a spokesperson said.

“Following consultation and a review of alternative feedback and options, there were considerations to increase maintenance demand in Nelson, however, due to runway constraints (being too short to allow Air New Zealand A320 and A321 aircraft) additional maintenance is unable to be relocated to Nelson.”

The spokesperson said outside of the main centres, Nelson is and will remain Air New Zealand’s largest regional presence as one of its main passenger and cargo ports.

“The airline remains committed to the Nelson–Tasman region and looks forward to supporting the return of domestic tourism to the region.”

Nelson MP Nick Smith said he was “gutted” at the news.

“Nelson should not be the fall guy for Air New Zealand’s post Covid-19 problems. This heavy engineering workshop is efficient and well located for Air New Zealand’s regional fleet and should be retained for when aviation recovers. Air New Zealand has not given alternative plans for retaining the specialist turbo prop base here in Nelson proper consideration.

“I am disappointed at the Government’s silence on the loss of this industry to Nelson and the 100 jobs. The Government cannot say its top priority is job retention but then ignore the pleas for its $900m of support to Air New Zealand to be tagged to the retention of jobs and services to the regions.”

A petition of over 16,000 signatures trying to save the hub was presented to Parliament last Wednesday.

“I am not giving up the fight for this important Nelson industry that has taken two decades to build. It is inevitable there will be some job losses with the downturn in aviation but I am determined that we leave the door open for this Nelson industry to recover in the longer term.”