30 April 2020

The latest update



Sounds Air pilot Ash Hurndell is an essential worker, but during lockdown level four he only had to put his uniform on once. That flight had only one passenger, but for that person, the trip to Wellington was essential. Hurndell said when New Zealand first went into lockdown, the crew at Sounds Air were asked who would interested in working, should a flight pop up. "It was just a swarm, everyone wanted to be at work," he said.  ​Hurndell said the Sounds Air crew had a meeting before they went into lockdown. "The one thing that came out of our meeting [was that] we are just so glad to be here, through the good and the bad. From a pilot's point of view, the reason I do this, it's not just because it's a job or a way to pay the bills. Flying is a passion and we're just really looking forward to getting back in the air." The airline employs 65 people, including 26 pilots. It has 10 aircraft that flies to destinations in New Zealand that otherwise did not have an air link, such as Blenheim to Christchurch, Blenheim to Paraparaumu, Wellington to Westport and Wellington to Taupo.  With support from the wage subsidy, the airline has so far not laid off any staff, despite barely breaking even through the Covid-19 pandemic. It made just six flights during level four but during day one of level three, on Tuesday, it already made two flights for essential workers returning home or back to work. The health board had also started moving patients. The airline has been seeking support from the Government since New Zealand went into lockdown. The Government established a $600 million aviation sector relief package to provide financial support, but so far Sounds Air has not received any of that fund. A petition, 'Save Sounds Air', launched by KaikĊura MP Stuart Smith, had collected nearly 25,000 signatures by midday on April 29. During question time when Parliament returned on April 28, Smith questioned when Sounds Air would get the support they were promised. Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Transport Phil Twyford, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the Government was continuing to communicate with Sounds Air about what a support package would look like. "As part of our 600 million dollar aviation support package, the Government's already provided support to airlines to fund air freight on the rural networks, including, Air Chathams, Barrier Air, Fly My Sky, Island Air Charters and Air Napier," Hipkins said.  "While these measures directly support airlines, remote communities and exporters, we've also stepped in to fund things like air traffic control and security screening. Things the aviation industry would normally pay for themselves." Smith questioned if it was fair to provide $900 millios of financial support to Air New Zealand within one week, but to leave regional airlines, like Sounds Air, "teetering on the brink of receivership". Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford believed there was "light at the end of the tunnel". Crawford said he had also been pushing for the Government to use their service. "We have small aircraft, they're nine and 12 seats and they are versatile and agile. We're asking where can we be used to fill the gaps, we've got the crew, the assets are all sitting here, why aren't we using them?" Crawford was hopeful the Government would provide some support soon. "If we can get some support from the Government it would be huge. And it's really just to get us over the next six months. If we start getting rid of aircraft and crew, it will be very hard to get going again."

1 comment:

  1. I HAVE REMOVED ALL THE COMMENTS FROM THIS POST... AS I HAVE SAID BEFORE IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH ANY OPERATOR TAKE IT UP WITH THEM (IN THIS CASE) OR THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES. THIS BLOG IS TO RECORD NEWS AND HISTORY - IT'S NOT THE PLACE TO ANONYMOUSLY DEAL OUT PERSONAL VENDETTAS.

    ReplyDelete