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Government Avoiding Key Question On Air NZ

Wednesday, September 19 2001

ACT Commerce Spokesman Stephen Franks says Government ministers are continually avoiding the question of whether Air New Zealand flights will keep running.

"In response to repeated questions over two days about whether the government will ensure Air NZ services continue, Government ministers have been ducking and weaving.

"The peak was reached today with the Finance Minister sitting beside ballet patron PM Helen Clark, comparing the question asked to whether it was possible to assure that someone buying a ticket for the ballet in four weeks time would definitely be able to see a performance.

"Air services are so crucial to New Zealand that Ministers must have known they would be required to guarantee a continuing national airline.

"If the ministers had understood the difference between rescuing existing shareholders and sustaining services they could have cleared the confusion months ago. Whatever happens to share values, whether the company goes into receivership or statutory management - not uncommon in the airline industry ' they would know the planes must continue to flying for so long as passenger demand and revenue justifies that.

"The $550 million the government has offered should be for services to New Zealanders not a reward to shareholders who have driven the existing company to its knees," Stephen Franks said.

Ends


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