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Happy end to airport fiasco

2 September 2005

Happy end to airport fiasco

While Green Co-Leader Rod Donald was eating humble pie on the tarmac at Auckland Airport, his fellow passengers were eating fresh sandwiches courtesy of the aircraft's Air New Zealand pilots.

"Concerned that the passengers had spent three hours waiting on the tarmac, our pilots bought us all the sandwiches in the airport café out of their own pockets," Mr Donald said.

"Clearly, the pilots of Flight 503 don't need training in public relations and communications. Their gesture was very well received by all the passengers on board."

Mr Donald had earlier wrongly accused Auckland Airport of not maintaining the back-up generators for runway lighting. In fact, the Airways Corporation owns and operates the generators and is therefore responsible for this morning's airport shambles.

Mr Donald observed that Airways Corporation made a net operating profit after tax of $12.17 million to the year to June 2004, and paid the Government a dividend of $12 million.

"Perhaps it would be prudent for the Government to let Airways Corporation keep more of its profit so that it can keep the lights on at Auckland Airport when they're needed.

"Without doubt, this morning's disruption cost Air New Zealand hundreds of thousands of dollars."

It was revealed in April that the Airways Corporation had entered into a controversial cross-border lease, which boosted their coffers by $29.5 million.

"Instead of chasing windfall profits, the Corporation should stick to its knitting."

ENDS

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