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Feedback To Sludge #51: Airways Treason

Feedback To Sludge: Airways Treason - The Myths And Truth

The Sludge Story on Airways, obviously written by another of the hundreds of "consultants" paid for with taxpayers' money by the increasingly desperate outgoing management and board of Airways, perpertuates a few myths. We would like to contribute to their demythification:

1. Myth 1: Airways was brought down and failed because there was some conspiracy and jealousy because the SOE was about to hit the big time. We are sorry to state the obvious but Airways' failed bid for NATS had little to do with helping an SOE hitting the big time. It was all about the Airways BOYS hitting the big time. The Airways publicly funded and now failed adventure was a risk free, cost free, taxpayer funded venture which would have landed the 3 top Airways BOYS, Sinclair, Bole and Woodbury, 3 plumb jobs in the UK, plus potentially gigantic bonuses. Indeed, if Airways had won the bid, the Airways Boys would have secured the 3 top jobs in a company hundreds of times bigger than Airways in the UK, with salaries and incentives to match (let's not forget the 10 million pounds that were available). If the bid did not succeed (as it predictably turned out), they lost nothing themselves, you and I paid for their failure, and still kept their jobs in Wellington. It was a safe bet, at both ends. A brilliant "strategy" devised by CEO Sinclair, and approved (how could he?) by then Chairman Maasland (no wonder he announced he was stepping down immediately after their brilliant little scheme became public). What a bunch of suckers we are! We ended up paying for their job application!

2. The myth of the ATC Alliances: Airways keeps repeating that they had no choice but to bid for NATS because there are five or six alliances which are "starting to emerge" which will control the ATC industry worldwide. The Airways Boys say: if you don't follow them, we'll miss out. Another smokescreen to justify the Airways Boys strategy. Big empty words, which, if not tested, seem to make sense, but when they are tested, not any more. All this is proven nonsense. There is no such thing as ATC Alliances, and never will be. If these "alliances" exist, Airways should give us the names and addresses of these alliances, where they operate and how much they have made, even at their embryonic stage. But the Airways Boys won't tell you this because they can't. They simply do not exist. You won't see this nonsense repeated anywhere in the universe, and yet some Airways funded sectors of our media, keep repeating it. But it is a myth, another smokescreen used to justify the unjustifiable: an absurd publicly funded bid which would have landed Airways managers plumb jobs in the UK. Jobs which could have not secured by themselves. Message to the Airways Boys: next time you want a job abroad, just send your CV and save us 3 million bucks, will you?

3. Myth 3: The Airways Bid failed because of the corruption allegation early last year: if so, why did the Airways Boys carry on? They would have saved us millions if they had. But what the hell they said, it wasn't their money at risk so let's take our chances. However, it is not true that they failed just because of the allegations of corruption and the inquiry on their ethics and integrity which followed. There is nothing in the British newspapers, not one article, which alluded to the corruption allegations as the reason for their failure. To the contrary, there was ample mention of Lockheed's inability to complete its contracts on time and on budget in the UK, and the serious conflict of interest Lockheed had as a current technology supplier of NATS. Those were the reasons. Perhaps the Airways Boys chose the wrong partner in Lockheed after all, not the other way around.

4. Myth 4: Lockheed may dump Airways now. Wrong. Lockheed was not the big loser which Sludge painted. We, the taxpayers, were the big losers. Lockheed won (well, was given, because there was no competition) their first ATC contract in New Zealand, or in the Asia Pacific region, ever. You see, everywhere else in this world, these multimillion dollar contracts are put for tender. There are competitive bids, proposals, and tenders. But not in little old New Zealand. Here, we won't bother with that trivia. Here, Maasland and Sinclair know best. And we are sure it was all done on merit and for the best price. Elsewhere, they test prices openly. Here, Maasland and Sinclair choose New Zealand's selected mulitmillon dollar supplier in a closed meeting, and see you later. Pity for them it does not work the same way in the UK. They still run tenders there. Old Fashioned Farts!

Message to the Airways Boys: please do yourselves a favour, eat humble pie, stop justifying the unjustifiable, stop embarrassing everybody, and stay where you are which is where you wanted to end up. London may feel cold in Winter, but it will feel warm compared to the reception you may get here.

As to the Airways Board, and the Minister "responsible". Say No More.

Regards Barry Brunton

PS: Well done, Scoop, for breaking this story. You gave prominence to the advertisement Airways published yesterday in the Sludge. Fair enough. Do the same thing with our reply. We've had enough of nonsense.


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