Air New Zealand says its chief executive Rob Fyfe will not attend pay dispute talks with its subsidiary Zeal on Thursday because he is dealing with the company's swine flu response plan.
The 240 Zeal workers have been battling for the same pay as Air New Zealand cabin crew for seven months.
But the latest increase of just 0.05% to the company's offer still leaves them lagging by thousands of dollars.
Andrew Little from the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union says a four-day strike is planned next week if the talks break down.
Zeal crews work on Air New Zealand's A320 fleet, which services part of the airline's trans-Tasman and Pacific routes as well as a small number of domestic flights.