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Kangaroo Must Not Replace Koru

18 July 2002

Kangaroo Must Not Replace Koru

National Party leader Bill English called on Prime Minister Helen Clark and Finance Minister Michael Cullen to "come clean" on behind the scenes manoeuvres between Air New Zealand and Qantas, announcing National's Transport Policy in Auckland today.

Mr English said it was becoming increasingly obvious that "plans are afoot" for Qantas to purchase a stake in Air New Zealand after the election.

"Last week a team of senior Qantas executives headed by General Manager of Airline Strategy and Network Paul Edwards spent time in the offices of Bell Gully. If they were not doing due diligence, what were they doing?

"At the weekend Air NZ chief executive Ralph Norris said in Melbourne that a "relationship of some sort" was under discussion and that there would be "obvious benefits' in an arrangement between the two airlines.

"Yesterday Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon announced that his airline would not proceed with the planned upgrading of services in this country, leading commentators to the obvious conclusion that a deal over Air NZ is on the way.

"Selling Air NZ to Qantas would marginalise Air NZ to become a regional airline, a minor player in the trans-tasman and international markets. It will mean higher prices and less services as we lose competition.

Mr English said the Government owed New Zealanders, who's taxes bought a stake in the airline, an explanation as to what was going on behind their backs.

"This is New Zealanders' airline, an airline this Government has bailed out after it dithered on a sale to Singapore Airlines last year. Now taxpayers who are funding the airline have a right to know what the Government is planning to do with it," Mr English said.

Ends


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