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Working for a better future after redundancy

Redundancy was not something 24 year-old Billy Alexander ever imagined he would have to face so soon in his career as a flight attendant.

During lockdown, Billy and partner Skye Crawford, 21, were among those who lost their jobs at Air New Zealand.

Up until that point, the pair had worked on short haul flights for 18 months.

Billy says it was a job he loved and one he saw himself being in for at least ten years.

After a really tough couple of months, he has now landed what may just be the perfect role for him – a Customer Service Representative at the Ministry of Social Development.

“I think I am probably meant to be here because I know exactly how it feels. I can really empathise those at the other end of the line. I know exactly how it feels to be made redundant and to be there thinking ‘oh my god what do I do’.”

The pair first heard rumours about staff cuts at Air New Zealand amidst the lockdown.

“It was really tough. We didn’t know where the world was going or where our jobs were going... It was worrying and terrifying – especially with bills to pay and rent – all those things,” says Billy.

“It’s a hard place to be.”

“I never thought I would be in a position like that. You hear about people being made redundant and I never thought I would be so upset about losing a job. But it does hit you.”

Billy says the pair grappled to come to turns with their plight initially, taking turns at crying and comforting each other.

“It wasn’t like one of us had a job to fall back on.”

The couple went for walks, and talked about their situation and feelings openly and honestly, while making strategies on what they could do to get to their end goal of being employed again.

“Looking back on it now, it was great that we were in that position because we both fully understood what was going on in each other’s mind. Having that support and them knowing what it feels like – and also seeing other mates at Air New Zealand – and talking it through with them - it made it a lot more bearable.”

Billy says he drew on past experiences, where he had hit lows, as motivation to pick himself up and push forward to “make a better situation out of the one I got given”.

“It was sink or swim. You get faced with that and you can either wait for something to happen or you can go out there and apply for jobs.”

When Billy landed his job, the couple were able to relax somewhat, knowing they finally had a source of income.

Prior to landing his new job in May, Billy applied for at least 20 jobs, facing rejection after rejection.

He says Skye would have applied for even more, before she landed a job as a part-time receptionist.

“You’ve got to keep your head up, keep pushing at just getting through each day,” says Billy.

“If you’re trying to find jobs, you’ve just got to keep going because you will get knocked down a lot. Nobody gets the first job they apply for. Keep at it, even if you are feeling down. Think about where you want to be in a couple of months and work towards that,” says Billy – to all those who may need to hear it.

While the pair hope they can return one day to the travel industry, they’re making the most of their new roles and looking on the plus side...

“We met each other while training to be flight attendants... So we got something good out of it at least. We got experience and each other,” says Billy.

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