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Bottom Line Spelled Out For Qantas/Air New Zealand

The Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) has listed the bottom line conditions for business if any purchase of Air New Zealand by Qantas is to proceed.

"Business wants to make very clear what its bottom line position is on the conditions it expects to be fulfilled should Qantas end up controlling Air New Zealand, " said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"First, it is absolutely vital that competition on domestic air routes is maintained. The same applies across the Tasman. No one seriously believes if Qantas bought control that it would maintain separate airline operations and marketing for long.

"At best we would have clayton's competition as Air New Zealand would become an appendage to its biggest competitor. Our Commerce Commission must not entertain such a weak arrangement. Qantas should not be permitted control. It's maximum share holding should not exceed 24.9 per cent of Air New Zealand.

"Second, the survival of our national flag carrier internationally is extremely important for New Zealand's profile and our tourism industry. New Zealand cannot afford to become just a part of an international destination to Australia.

"Air New Zealand is effectively foreign owned already, as Brierley Investments is a Singaporean company, and the main beneficiary if such a deal should go ahead. Nevertheless it is very important we retain sovereign ownership of landing rights internationally for reciprocal negotiation purposes. Therefore any change in foreign ownership ought to complement Air New Zealand's strategic focus, not undermine it.

"Finally, kiwis' fundamental sense of national pride is at stake with these negotiations - there must be a better way through the present impasse than selling out to Australian interests. In this context, the reason Singapore Airlines has such purchasing power is because the Singapore Government owns most of the airline, with access to capital from Singapore's vast savings funds.

"Most of these points have been well canvassed over the last few days - we know that. Our members wanted them put firmly on record as representing the views of business as well."


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