15 Jun 2013

Business group hopes aviation workers will stay in Marlborough

3:15 pm on 15 June 2013

The Marlborough Chamber of Commerce hopes new jobs will be found in the region for workers displaced from an aviation maintenance company.

Safe Air, based in Blenheim, is proposing to restructure and says 84 jobs could be lost.

The Air New Zealand subsidiary says its work upgrading Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules and P3 Orion aircraft fleets will finish in the coming year, so it needs to reposition the business for reduced work flow.

Chamber of Commerce general manager Brian Dawson says the region's economy is on the up and he expects the workers' skills will be transferable to other engineering enterprises in the area.

"We would really hope that between other aviation opportunities, other engineering businesses and other businesses that those people can be accommodated."

Mr Dawson says some staff may be able to set up their own businesses.

However, Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman fears the workers may have to leave Blenheim.

He says there just aren't those kinds of jobs around, and the town will have to deal with the loss.

Mr Sowman says Safe Air had been a major employer for many years but the type of work it was doing had a limited life.

"They were trying to secure other contracts overseas but they haven't been successful.

"We may have to live with a slimmed-down Safe Air but we want to make sure that slimmed-down version has a future."