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Copeland quizzes Govt over Air NZ/Qantas deal


For immediate release

Thursday, 10 October 2002


Copeland quizzes Govt over Air NZ/Qantas deal

United Future New Zealand MP, Gordon Copeland, believes the Government has a conflict of interest between its obligations as a majority shareholder in Air New Zealand and its duty to protect the wider interests of all New Zealand consumers when considering any proposed sale of shares in the national airline to Qantas.

During Question Time in Parliament today, Mr Copeland, the party's finance spokesman, quizzed Finance Minister, Dr Michael Cullen, about the conflict and also whether, as principal shareholder in the airline, the Government was prepared to ask the Air New Zealand board to explore the option of an equity and debt capital fundraising from the market, thus negating the need for the sale of a shareholding stake to its major competitor, Qantas.

"I am personally concerned," he said, "that the airline boards will try to rush the Government into a hasty decision with limited, or no, consideration by the Commerce Commission about the monopoly considerations and the long-term damage to the interests of New Zealanders through higher air fares and fewer flights and services.

"I was pleased that Dr Cullen gave a commitment today that he will submit any Qantas proposal to the Commerce Commission. However, I am disappointed that he still appears reluctant to even consider the option of going to the markets for recapitalizing Air New Zealand ahead of looking to a shareholding sale to Qantas, " concluded Mr Copeland.

ends

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