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Erebus and Perpignan Anniversaries

Media Release

STRICTLY EMBARGOED until 5am, Thursday 24 September 2009

Erebus and Perpignan Anniversaries

Air New Zealand is inviting families of those lost on flight TE 901 at Mount Erebus to provide feedback on aspects of a proposal to mark the 30th anniversary of the accident on November 28 this year.

Air New Zealand has been exploring with Antarctica New Zealand the possibility of holding memorial services at the accident site and Scott Base.  These would be attended by a representative of Air New Zealand and the Government, which was owner of the airline at the time of the accident.

When it began considering how to mark the 30th anniversary, Air New Zealand explored the possibility of giving a family representative of each of those lost in the accident an opportunity to visit the Erebus memorial in Antarctica.  However, in consultation with Antarctica New Zealand, it quickly became clear this was not practically or logistically possible given the remoteness of the Erebus memorial site and the limited opportunity to co-ordinate the visit with combined United States and New Zealand helicopter support.

Following recent agreement with Antarctica New Zealand, Air New Zealand is able to make available five places to visit Scott Base and the Erebus memorial site dependent on weather. It is proposed three of those places would be taken by next-of-kin of passengers, with the other two by representatives of each of the cabin crew and flight crew.

Air New Zealand Deputy Chief Executive Officer Norm Thompson says the airline would like feedback from families on whether they feel it is appropriate for these seats to be filled by next-of-kin.

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“We have placed advertisements today in national and regional newspapers and messages through the embassies representing the countries of the overseas-based passengers asking for their feedback by 7 October.  If there is a general consensus that it would be appropriate to have next-of-kin travel to Antarctica on behalf of the families for the services, we will seek expressions of interest and the selection will be made through an independent ballot process provisional on those balloted passing a full Antarctic medical by 5 November,” Mr Thompson says.

He says the airline would also like to receive feedback from next-of-kin about whether they would like the opportunity to have messages for loved ones placed in a capsule near the accident site.

Meantime, Air New Zealand is also putting in place plans to mark the first anniversary of the A320 accident off the coast of Perpignan in France on 28 November (NZ time) last year.

“We expect some family and friends of the men lost in the accident to travel to Perpignan where we will hold a service and unveil a memorial plaque.  We will also hold an event to thank the search and rescue teams and accident investigators for their tireless efforts.  For those who do not to travel to France, an anniversary service will be held in Auckland,” Mr Thompson says.


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