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Government Unmasked By Air NZ

30 October 2001

The Government's attempt to look like the knight in shining armour for Air New Zealand has fallen flat with the release of the company's annual report today, says National's Transport spokesperson Belinda Vernon.

"While the Government has tried to sell its $885 million bailout of Air NZ as the saving grace for the airline, acting chairman Jim Farmer's comments in the report reveal a different side of the story.

Dr Farmer's report in the Air NZ annual report says 'Following extensive work by management and by industry advisers, an initial recapitalisation plan was discussed with the New Zealand Government in June 2001 and a formal proposal followed in mid-July. The proposal, supported by Singapore Airlines, included a plan to increase Singapore Airlines' share ownership to 49 percent.... Ultimately this plan was not able to be implemented due largely to delays in the approval process exacerbated by an untimely intervention by the Australian Government promoting a competing Qantas proposal.'

"The reality is that if the Government hadn't dithered over the Singapore Airlines proposal, taxpayers wouldn't be forking out $885 million to buy an airline.

"The Prime Minister and Finance Minister's attempts to deny dithering allegations have been 'outed' by the company in the annual report. The Government didn't understand the situation that Air NZ was in, nor the time pressures under which it had to make a decision. The fact that the Prime Minister refused to take a call from Rod Deane to alert her to the situation showed how naïve they were," Belinda Vernon said.

Ends


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