Joanita Wibowo

International Travel

"Extremely proud to be making this announcement": Air New Zealand announces major change

"Extremely proud to be making this announcement": Air New Zealand announces major change

Air New Zealand has introduced changes to allow staff to “proudly” display their non-offensive tattoos at work, reversing a controversial long-standing policy.

Starting September 1, the airline’s staff will be able to have tā moko and/or non-offensive tattoos visible when wearing their uniform or normal business dress.

“I’m extremely proud to be making this announcement,” said CEO Christopher Luxon. “It reinforces our position at the forefront of the airline industry in embracing diversity and enabling employees to express individuality or cultural heritage.”

The changes came after five months’ research with Air New Zealand customers and employees, as well as a few high-profile cases of job applicants being turned down due to visible tattoos. The airline has been slammed as hypocritical for preventing staff to display their tattoos while promoting using koru designs.

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A post shared by Air New Zealand (@airnz) on Apr 22, 2019 at 11:02pm PDT

Luxon said according to the company’s research, one in five adult New Zealanders has at least one tattoo, with more than 35 per cent of people under 30 having been inked.

“We want to liberate all our staff including uniform wearers such as cabin crew, pilots and airport customer service teams who will, for the first time, be able to have non-offensive tattoos visible when wearing their uniforms,” said Luxon.

“There is an expectation that Air New Zealand will represent our country and our people authentically to the world and having a workforce who can bring their true selves to work is an important part of that.”

The carrier’s spokeswoman said the appropriateness of the tattoos will be evaluated in the same way as speech: “…in the same way you shouldn't swear, make hateful comments, lewd jokes, or use violent language in the workplace for example, the same goes for tattoos”.

She said, “Where the situation is not clear, we will have a Tattoo Review Panel to assist employees and managers to determine whether a tattoo is aligned with our policy.”

Head of aviation at E tū union Savage said it was a “smart move” for the company. “Aotearoa is a Pacific nation. No one should be surprised to board an Air New Zealand flight or turn up at a New Zealand airport and be attended to by someone with a tattoo and a smile on their face,” said Savage.

“Tā moko, tatau and tattoos are all Pacific artforms.

“Air New Zealand is embracing diversity and inclusiveness to increase workplace wellbeing and productivity and as a union we support that.”