Pilot shortage? MoBIE tells Air New Zealand: We can’t see one

24 December 2013 / by the GAA team / Consultation, Employment, Governance

Air New Zealand’s application to have Aeroplane Pilot added to the Immediate Skills Shortage List has been rejected.

This is an encouraging result for GAA, the New Zealand Airline Pilots Association and – most important of all – every Kiwi whose ambition is to fly for their national airline.

GAA submitted a 17,000-word rebuttal of the airline’s claim (much of it written by students and Kiwi airline pilots working overseas) along with almost 240 co-signatories. NZ ALPA provided statistical evidence reinforcing the GAA argument that there is no current shortage of potential airline pilots in this country. Also objecting were:

♦ The Federation of Air New Zealand Pilots (a union representing pilots employed by Air New Zealand, Mt Cook, Air Nelson and Eagle Air)

♦ CTC Aviation Training (NZ) Ltd (flight instructor group) and three aero clubs (the Hawke’s Bay & East Coast Aero Club Inc, Tauranga Aero Club and the Royal New Zealand Aero Club Inc)

♦ 24 individual submissions, the majority of which were from either pilots or the parents of people who were (or who had trained to be) pilots and were based in New Zealand or overseas.

The application, made by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the airline and supported by the Aviation Industry Association, was turned down in a decision released in mid-December.

The ministry said it could not establish proof of an immediate skills shortage and “There are other immigration options that would be available in the event of an emerging shortage of pilots, e.g. Essential Skills work visa policy (subject to advertising and demonstrating that there are no suitable New Zealand citizens or residents available), Approval in Principle (where a batch of positions need to be filled), Accredited Employer (Air New Zealand is an accredited employer) or the Skilled Migrant Category. The latter two options should be more relevant to airlines in that their focus would be on long term employment, rather than a temporary work visa that could be obtained under an ISSL listing.”

GAA thanks everyone who helped to oppose PwC and Air New Zealand, at very short notice. Without your support, it would have not been possible to create a submission in the less than two weeks we had before the deadline passed.

Alas, the airline still shows no inclination to commit itself to the kind of cadetship scheme common elsewhere that provides a bridge between CPL and airliner cockpit.

♦ While this application was being considered, Air New Zealand also applied to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for employer accreditation to allow the company to employ foreign specialist engineers.

The employer accreditation programme is run by Immigration New Zealand and allows employers who are “unable to find suitably qualified or experienced New Zealand workers” to recruit non-New Zealand citizens or resident workers.

The application to employ foreign aircraft engineers “defies belief” in light of recent staff redundancies, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU). A spokesman said the union was “gobsmacked”, bearing in mind a recent threat of engineering redundancies at the airline.

Last August, GAA reported on the threatened job cuts in this article.