More Nelson jobs as Air Caledonie moves into Air NZ maintenance hub

The first Air Caledonie ATR aircraft arriving in Nelson on Sunday.

The maintenance of New Caledonian aeroplanes in Nelson will mean 25 new jobs over the coming year has local bodies excited about opportunities for growth.

Air Calédonie became the first international customer of Air New Zealand's regional maintenance base on Sunday when its ATR42 aircraft arrived at the Nelson hangar, where Air New Zealand currently services its own Bombardier Q300 and ATR fleets.

Air New Zealand's chief operating officer Bruce Parton said the regional maintenance hub provides 187 engineering jobs, with 40 to 50 more jobs anticipated "as the third-party work comes on".

Air Calédonie will now undertake ten-year heavy maintenance for four of its aircraft in Nelson.

Air New Zealand spokesperson Anna Cross said the Nelson base was established with "a vision to make Nelson the preferred turboprob maintenance and overhaul facility in Australasia".

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About 50 local jobs were created when the maintenance hub opened in August last year, expanding on the 135 Air Nelson Engineering jobs already established.

The salaries for those jobs ranged between $80,000 and $120,000 and Cross said 25 upcoming engineering jobs would attract similar pay.

Nelson mayor Rachel Reese said she was thrilled at the news of more "well-paid, skilled jobs in the region".

"It's a big thing for Nelson. This is the type of employment we're really trying to attract so the regional maintenance base is a very important part of our community.

"Not only do we attract skilled employees to our region we also create exciting career pathways for our local young talent.  Alongside the new jobs is a focus on developing educational opportunities in aviation engineering."

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology [NMIT] director of marketing and international development Virginia Watson said NMIT offers the country's highest certification in aviation engineering outside of the Air Force.

"The whole industry is quite collaborative and it's a pretty exciting career for someone who is engineering minded. One thing we would like to see more of is school leavers going into that aviation engineering programme."

Watson said the fast-paced growth of Nelson Airport and skilled workers made the region an attractive area for aircraft maintenance, a sentiment echoed by Air Calédonie CEO Samuel Hnepeune.

"The close proximity of New Caledonia to New Zealand, together with the world-class facilities offered in Nelson and experienced turboprop engineers is a good proposition for our airline," he said.

 - Stuff