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Erebus apology is a game changer

Today’s apology by the Government and Air New Zealand to the families of those killed in the 1979 Erebus disaster is a game changer for this country’s pilots and our entire aviation industry, according to the President of the New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA), Captain Andrew Ridling.

“The Erebus disaster, and the tumultuous events that followed, had a lasting effect on aviation in New Zealand and on relationships with Air New Zealand. The pilots on board the aircraft that day were subject to unfair conjecture and blame that affected their professional reputations,” said Captain Ridling.

“We have waited a very long time to see that put right. Our thoughts are now with the families of the crew and every passenger who was on board the aircraft that day.”

Captain Ridling acknowledged the role of women in leadership in New Zealand – noting that it was Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Air New Zealand Chair Dame Therese Walsh making the apology. He also acknowledged the role of Transport Minister Phil Twyford in the apology.

“It’s impossible to underestimate the effect of just a few words. It’s very important to us and the families to hear the Prime Minister say the pilots were not responsible for this tragedy,” Captain Ridling said.

“For New Zealanders, the word Erebus is not just a mountain on a cold distant continent. It is now a by-word for a dark time we hope we will never experience again,” he said.

“We share the sentiment of the Prime Minister when she says we must all keep striving to make better.”

Earlier today, when he spoke at the commemorative service at the Erebus Crew Memorial Garden at Auckland Airport, Captain Ridling said he appreciated the efforts of the Government and the Minister of Transport in supporting the Erebus Memorial and urged the New Zealand public to get behind the Government in progressing this.

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