One of the best aspects of our Annual Conference is the chance to come together and discuss the difficult issues facing our industry.
The theme of this year’s Conference - The Liberalisation of Airspace: Challenges and Opportunities - certainly offered a topic many were passionate about. It was great to see that this zeal was prevalent throughout the agenda – at sub-committee meetings and during speeches and panel discussions.
As NZALPA, our membership remains best placed to guide, inform and effect change within our industry.
At Conference alone, we had Labour MP and Transport Spokesperson Sue Moroney outline how important it was that policy makers hear from us; we also had an opportunity to connect with senior management from Airways New Zealand and Aviation New Zealand to demonstrate the value of our knowledge and how our experience and expertise can add to decision-making. This was in addition to months of concerted outreach by our national team to government decision makers, political stakeholders and to the general public, through the media, on those issues that are most important to our members and our industry.
Despite the rapid change in aviation, the high level of capability and experience of NZALPA pilots and air traffic controllers has never been called into question, and I say with certainty that our commitment to safety on behalf of each other and members of the travelling public has never been so strong.
Our dedication to the wellbeing of our colleagues is an increasing part of this commitment to safety and came across clearly throughout the Conference. The wrap-around support provided by the Peer Assistance Network (PAN) and the associated insurances is something for which we, as a professional association, are highly regarded. As this year’s recipient of the Jim Collins Memorial Award, aviation psychologist Allan Baker’s efforts and dedication were recognised and deservedly so. Along with the committed volunteers on the Medical and Welfare committee, and a strong team of peer assistance volunteers, NZALPA is pioneering the way in this area. And this is not going unnoticed. You’ll see within this edition that the Civil Aviation Authority is the latest organisation to officially endorse PAN; a clear sign to the Medical and Welfare team that the industry’s viewpoint on mental health issues is changing, and our people are at the centre of that movement.
Collaboration with key industry stakeholders will also be increasingly important to NZALPA. Not only are we forging stronger partnerships with domestic organisations such as Aviation New Zealand, but we are becoming an integral member association at international organisations such as the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA). These alliances, in addition to strategic lobbying and communications, are a vital part of positioning our association to effect change.
NZALPA’s negotiations team is going from strength to strength, too. Legal Officer Mark Dignan has just returned from the US, having participated in the Harvard Program on Negotiation. He was joined by representatives from the government and private sector and learned the art of interest-based problem solving, often called principled negotiation, by the world’s leading professors in the field.
It’s this sort of training and preparation, in the face of change and disruptive technology, which puts NZALPA’s legal team in the front seat for successful negotiations with employers and achieving the best possible outcomes for our membership.
NZALPA’s governance is something that sets it apart from other membership organisations. There is often a misconception that rigorous governance is less important for membership organisations and NGOs than commercial operations, but it is imperative that strong and growing entities such as ours demonstrate ‘best practice’ governance to enhance decision-making and accountability. Robust and transparent policies and procedures and a leadership group that works constructively as a team increases NZALPA’s market respect and credibility that will ultimately benefit the membership and further the objectives of our organisation.
NZALPA also needs to be seen as a governance leader to our commercial stakeholders. Not only does this enforce our legitimacy and effectiveness, it also underpins a true professional partnership for all our ‘good faith’ dealings and negotiations. This also extends to wider external relationships with other stakeholders such as government and regulatory bodies, as well as with similar interest organisations and training institutions.
This year and into the future, the rate of change in aviation will not slow down. Issues such as succession planning, sustainable resourcing and the effects of rapid and disruptive technological change are likely to loom large on employers’ agendas and affect both our pilot, air traffic control and flight service members.
We’re fortunate that NZALPA is positioning itself to face change head on, with the necessary partnerships, support and teams in place to shape the industry in which we work.
Enjoy your month.