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Where Was The Tender Process For Airways Corp?


New Zealand First has called on the Government to investigate the processes used by Airways Corporation to replace the country’s air traffic control system.

The Leader, Rt Hon Winston Peters, raised the issue in Parliament today, questioning the SOE Minister about the ATC contract recently awarded to Lockheed Martin.

Mr Peters said that Airways Corporation ignored an expert offer to adequately upgrade the existing air traffic control system, at minimal cost, and did not call for tenders when it decided to go ahead and purchase a new one.

“We are concerned that the Corporation did not appear to make any thorough cost-benefit analysis or follow a transparent tender process.

“It appears that a deal was done to buy a Skyline system from Lockheed Martin without calling for worldwide tenders to see if there were other, better or cheaper systems available.

“We believe the Skyline system is being installed in New Zealand primarily to allow a joint Lockheed Martin Airways Corporation marketing effort around the world.

“New Zealand taxpayers should not be financing this – they should be obtaining the best system available on the open market at the best price.

“The Airways Corporation does not have a proven track record with some aspects of new technology as evidenced by the Oceanic Control System, for tracking aircraft movements throughout the Pacific.

“The OCS system was purchased in 1994 at a cost of six million dollars and was required to be fully operational by 1 April 1996. To this day it is still not fully operational despite the huge resources that have been poured into it and it is apparently to now form part of the system that Airways Corporation is trying to sell in its joint venture.”

Mr Peters questioned why Airways Corporation executives and Board members made the decision to go ahead with the new project without a tender process and he also wanted to know whether they sought expert advice from other Government agencies.

“Airways Corporation’s primary responsibility is air traffic control and the safe navigation of our skies, yet we hear disturbing reports about staff shortages and other operational issues.

“At the same time, Corporation executives chase international contracts to the extent that they reside overseas instead of overseeing their responsibilities in New Zealand.

“How can the Government be assured that Airways Corporation is competently managing the skies over New Zealand if senior staff are living overseas, helping create new air traffic control systems elsewhere?

“How does the Government know that it is getting the best equipment for the right price?”

“Is the Government being fully briefed about all developments at Airways Corporation?” Mr Peters asked.


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