Labor strife all but grounded Ansett New Zealand in the second half of September. On 16 September, the airline locked out its BAe 146 and Dash 8 pilots after they refused to sign a new contract offered by management. The contract would increase flying hours, cut allowance payments, and reduce pilot numbers by 35. The lockout culminates a period of growing turmoil marked by a series of strikes. With only four of the airline’s pilots accepting the new contract, Ansett NZ was forced to reduce its weekly schedule from 100 to only 18 services, with some destinations being dropped entirely. The airline’s schedule had already been hit by a wave of delays and cancellations in early September, when pilots called in sick after receiving the lockout notices, citing high stress levels. Despite the disruptions to its services, Ansett NZ is refusing to negotiate with the pilots union and has advertised, through an employment agency, for replacement crews. Many see the airline’s cost-cutting moves as part of an effort by Ansett NZ owner News Corporation to make the airline more attractive to potential buyers.