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More great feedback for INZ’s airline liaison officers

INZ's Joanna Nicholson (second from right) and Raymond House (far right) with 2 Qantas check-in staff, Carla Lopes (far left) and Anna Conlon (second from left).

Airline liaison officers (ALOs) play a critical role in Immigration New Zealand’s layered approach to managing immigration risks at the border — and airline staff across the ditch are full of praise for their mahi (work).

30 November 2023
3 minute read

Qantas Airways Customer Service Supervisor, Raymond House, took time out of his busy schedule to thank Immigration New Zealand Te Rōpū Manene (INZ) for the excellent mahi of our airline liaison officers (ALOs). INZ has been posting ALOs to Sydney since 2021.

“They are all a wonderful bunch of people — consummate professionals who are a great asset to INZ,” says Raymond. “We rely on the ALOs for those sticky situations that we cannot resolve. They have saved us many times with their subject matter knowledge.

“We appreciate each and every one of them that comes our way and for that we say a massive thank you.”

Striking the balance

ALOs are based in 6 countries around the world, and add another layer to INZ’s approach to managing immigration risks at the border. Joanna Nicholson is the current ALO in Sydney.

“My days are spent supporting airlines and their passengers to meet New Zealand’s entry requirements, and international aviation obligations,” says Joanna. “I support Immigration Border Operations in managing risk while it’s still offshore and assist in building strong relationships with airlines, alongside our Carrier Relationship Team.

“Together, we facilitate genuine travellers to our precious shores, finding on-the-spot solutions that allow them to make their flight,” says Joanna.

ALOs also help INZ strike the balance by reducing the number of improperly documented passengers travelling fraudulently to Aotearoa New Zealand. As Joanna says, “Many travellers have genuine intentions and others…not so much. I have enjoyed playing a part in maintaining the integrity of our immigration system and protecting our border.”

What it takes to be an ALO

ALOs are selected from highly experienced INZ staff. Joanna has been with INZ for 15 years. Her day job, when she is not on secondment as an ALO, is Senior Technical Advisor in the Palmerston North office. “A fair distance from any international airport or border.”

Joanna believes that to be a good ALO, “You need to be adaptable and have patience, and you need to problem-solve in time-pressured situations. Airlines have firm schedules and need to make sure passengers board quickly so each flight can depart at its allotted time.

“Working solo has meant it is extremely busy, and at times I wish I could clone myself to be with multiple airlines at once,” says Joanna.

One of the things that drew her to the job was that it is so customer centric. “Working so closely with our customers is the highlight of my job. I love being face-to-face with people and also supporting in multiple directions,” says Joanna. 

Being free and willing to leave friends and family behind and live overseas for at least 3 months is also important. “Australia doesn’t have ALOs from other countries,” she says, “so it can be lonely at times. Making connections with people outside of the airport is therefore important.

“Working overseas as a representative of New Zealand has been an absolute privilege,” says Joanna. Her motto is, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” and when asked if she would do it again, her answer was, “In a heartbeat.”