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Air New Zealand to Close Regional Maintenance Bases, Signifies Trouble
Air New Zealand has announced that it is closing another regional MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) facility in Hamilton, New Zealand this May. The closure is the latest in a string of MRO closures for the airline, which has seen a total of 19 employees being reassigned to other locations within the airline’s system.
Air New Zealand’s General Manager of Regional Airlines, Kel Duff, has said that the closures are part of the airline’s restructuring plan to consolidate maintenance services.
The airline still plans to keep its maintenance base in Nelson, where the majority of the maintenance is performed on the airline’s ATR and Bombardier aircraft, operated by Mount Cook Airline and Air Nelson respectively.
Both Mount Cook Airline and Air Nelson are subsidiaries of Air New Zealand and operate under the Air New Zealand Link brand.
However, the airline’s restructuring plan includes more details, some of which have angered many New Zealand residents.
The airline has also been in the process of terminating routes to the New Zealand cities of Westport, Whakatane, Kaitaia, Paraparaumu, Palmerston North, Taupo, Hamilton, and Whangarei.
Affected passengers now find themselves having to make lengthy connections in Auckland and Christchurch, sometimes paying around $150 for the extra leg.
“Things are pretty desperate if garden-variety Kiwis are ringing me late in the evening to complain about being stranded,” said Shane Jones, Regional Development Minister of New Zealand.
Many mayors of the affected cities have also expressed discontent with the terminations of operation in their cities and some believe that the airline is forgetting about them. It is worth noting that even with the terminations of routes and maintenance facilities, the airline is still continuing to invest in its regional fleet with 12 new ATR 72-600 aircraft on order.
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