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Air NZ CEO’s drastic move amid coronavirus chaos

Air New Zealand, Boeing, 787, Dreamliner, Taxiing at Auckland International Airport, New Zealand, 1 December 2019
Air New Zealand Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Auckland International Airport, New Zealand. The airline's CEO has volunteered to take a 15% pay cut. (Source: Getty)

The CEO of airline Air New Zealand will cut his pay by 15 per cent in order to mitigate the economic impacts of coronavirus Covid-19.

Air NZ chief executive officer Greg Foran has offered shave $250,000 off his base pay of $1.65 million with the approval of the company board, according to a statement by Air NZ.

The executive team of the airline will also continue its salary freeze and hiring will be temporarily paused for non-critical roles. Operational staff have been asked to take unpaid leave as well as available annual leave.

The moves come as Air New Zealand reduces its Asia flights by 26 per cent, which comes to an overall capacity reduction of 10 per cent since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Last month, Air NZ scaled back its earnings expectations, estimating that coronavirus would cost the airline between $35 million and $75 million.

"Air New Zealand is a strong and resilient business operated by a world-class team with deep experience having navigated prior shocks to our business and industry,” Foran said.

“While we have already made swift adjustments to our operations, we are prepared to take further actions to address the ongoing demand impact of Covid-19.”

Air NZ has pulled back on flights to Shanghai, across the Tasman, Pacific Islands, and within its domestic network.

Several airlines struggling

Air New Zealand joins a growing list of airlines and travel companies that have copped the one-two punches of Australia’s bushfires and coronavirus outbreak.

Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia have reduced flights as demand to and from Asia and across the world has fallen as coronavirus continues to spread across the world.

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific asked 33,000 global staff to take up to three weeks of unpaid leave last month. The airline has been struggling since the Hong Kong protests.

Flight Centre is also reportedly asking workers to take four-day weeks or unpaid leave.

Emirates is asking staff to take a month of unpaid leave as flights are cancelled around the world and the airline has cancelled flights to Iran, Bahrain and most of China.

“Considering the availability of additional resources and the fact that many employees want to utilise their leave, we have provided our employees the option to avail leave or apply for voluntary unpaid leave for up to one month at a time,” said Emirates chief operating officer Adel al-Redha.

Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah will ask Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to rein in fees at Australia’s major airports, which should lead to “less pressure to cancel flights,” he told SMH.

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