Tuesday, December 09, 2003


Since Xmas is coming up and people are making travel plans, I am repeating verbatim below a warning I gave at this time last year. I know that memories are short. Both Australia and Britain have long ago privatized their former national airlines but the Kiwis still cling on to theirs -- no doubt in an accurate realization that it would not last 6 months in the commercial marketplace. The cost to the Kiwi taxpayer has, however, been huge. And for what? Air services to New Zealand would at least not be altered by its demise -- and would probably be improved!

When Air New Zealand (a government-owned airline) crashed one of its planes into Mt Erebus in Antarctica some years ago, there was evidence of negligence in setting up the plane's navigational system. But pinning the blame on any one person or procedure was difficult. Top people all over New Zealand were involved in various ways with the airline and they all appeared to be covering up for one-another. The New Zealand government of the day was so despairing of getting to the bottom of the matter that it imported a judge from Australia to head the official enquiry. No New Zealand judge could be found who could be trusted. Even so, when the enquiry was over, the judge reported that he had been confronted by "an orchestrated litany of lies" in the course of his enquiry and it remained dubious whether enough changes had been made to prevent further such disasters.

Air New Zealand planes are just falling apart as they fly through the sky. It has now happened four times in the last four months. Maintenance is still obviously a low priority for this bureacratized monstrosity of an airline. When they owned Australia's Ansett Airlines, Ansett also had major maintenance problems -- leading to its eventual bankruptcy.


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