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Government Nobbles Air NZ Again

30 May 2002

The Government is nobbling Air New Zealand again by considering selling part of it to Qantas, says Belinda Vernon, National's transport spokesperson.

"Last year the Government brought Air New Zealand to its knees by refusing the Singapore Airlines offer, and then talked up the importance of having our own national airline. Now there's talk of selling out to Air New Zealand's biggest rival. It doesn't make sense.

"Qantas is interested in only one thing - relegating Air New Zealand as a small-bit regional airline. They want to swallow Air New Zealand. A cornerstone shareholding is the first bite.

"Selling any shareholding in Air New Zealand to Qantas has huge ramifications. It puts competition, lower prices and better service at risk. New Zealand travellers will be the losers.

"Giving Qantas a foothold into Air New Zealand, particularly at this early vulnerable stage of Air New Zealand's recovery, exposes the airline to uncertainty and risk.

"It's tantamount to knocking someone when they're down.

"No matter what they say about keeping the koru on the tail, a Qantas shareholding means a kangaroo in the pilot's seat.

"Air New Zealand needs stability and certainty. It needs to focus on matching its competitors in the air, not worrying about whether they are sitting in their own boardroom plotting their demise," says Ms Vernon.


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