NZ First versus Air NZ

The war of words between Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Air New Zealand over the cutting of regional flights continues. Jones is in tricky territory as a minister trying to bully a company with commercial interests.

Stuff: Shane Jones continues war of words with Air NZ as chairman hits back

Air New Zealand has hit back at Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones’ criticisms of the company saying it would “always act independently of the Crown”.

The strongly worded statement from Air NZ chairman Tony Carter is in response to Jones warning the company they needed to stop cutting regional flights and his attack that Kiwis got better treatment from second hand car dealers than the country’s national airline.

Jones delivered a blunt warning to Air NZ’s regional affairs manager, Ian Collier, at the Bay of Islands Airport near Kerikeri on Friday.

Jones told Collier: “don’t keep closing down regional air links. And take that message to your supervisors”.

Jones is furious about the announcement earlier this month that the airline is ending flights to the Kāpiti Coast, which comes after flights to Kaitaia were axed in 2015.

Jones’ comments to Collier were made at an event where the Government announced $1.75 million towards the $4.75m cost of building a new terminal near Jones’ Kerikeri home.

Earlier on Tuesday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern defended Jones’ comments and said, “ministers, particularly with a regional focus, will have an opinion”.

“That doesn’t mean that we have any ability or intent to take away the independent decision-making of a business like Air New Zealand,” she said.

Trying to defend NZ First ministers has become a bit of a task for Ardern. Last week she tried to defend Winston Peters over his stance on Russia.

Jones is encouraging mayoral leaders to approach the government with “solutions” and he wants to see a policy that ensures flight connectivity in the regions continues.

“The immediate solution lies with (Air NZ). They’ve taken a strategy to increase profit by downgrading provinces and you can’t tell me that they haven’t done that.”

He said former prime minister Sir John Key was on the Air NZ board and was in a position to “change the strategy and priorities”.

Air NZ should “put their money where their mouth is” when it comes to supporting provincial providers, Jones said.

Jones’ apparent understanding of how a commercial airline should operate raises questions over his decision making in dishing out billions of dollars to regions.

Jones said regional NZ got better treatment from second-hand car dealers than Air NZ.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said there wasn’t the same “political oversight” for Air NZ as other state-owned enterprises because it’s 49 per cent privately owned.

“The people on the board were put there by the previous Government and you’d think they’d be looking at New Zealand’s total interests across the country, including the regions.”

Ardern said the decision to cut flights was for Air NZ and it remains their decision, Jones was just expressing an opinion.

“I don’t think it would have come as any surprise to hear that from Minister Jones at all.”

She said the government had a role to play in some of the infrastructure projects in the regions but it’s “not for us to make decisions that are ultimately commercial ones for Air NZ, whilst we may of course have the opinion that we want things to improve, not get worse,” she said

Once again Ardern is distracted trying to deal with and defend statements and attempted coercion of her coalition partner.

The Government has to leave Air NZ to make commercial decisions as the company sees fit, or buy all the privately owned shares and then dictate what the airline should do as a government run service.

 

45 Comments

  1. PDB

     /  March 21, 2018

    I don’t think NZL First/Winston would have any problems criticising Labour MPs if they felt the need, hence where the power sits in this new govt.

    Ardern is being disingenuous as Jones was expressing more than an opinion.

    • Blazer

       /  March 21, 2018

      Do I have a new name. .now?

      • Gezza

         /  March 21, 2018

        ?

      • Blazer

         /  March 21, 2018

        Is this the polite way of banning people. .Q town. ..awaiting moderation?

        • Obviously you’re not banned.

          You can’t just change pseudonym without notice, it’s unfair on others, and there’s been too many problems with switching identities in the past. If you want to change your pseudonym you need to publicly advise what you’re changing to and then you can switch, as long as you don’t use your old one any more.

          Using multiple identities is not allowed.

          • Qtown

             /  March 21, 2018

            well I don’t know where the hell ..Qtown came from?

  2. Jones can solve his ‘problem’ by starting up a Feeder Airline.
    There are quite a number of small feeder airlines currently operating throughout NZ.
    Go for it Shane put your money where your mouth is

    • artcroft

       /  March 21, 2018

      He’s got a billion dollars to waste, so why not.

      • David

         /  March 21, 2018

        It’ll cost more than a billion by the time he is finished.

  3. alloytoo

     /  March 21, 2018

    All the Winston First MPS are as arrogant as hell.

  4. duperez

     /  March 21, 2018

    The real war isn’t Jones v Air New Zealand or Air New Zealand servicing provincial areas but the media battle. In the past 24 hours we’ve had slew of words about Jones ‘blasting’, ‘Shane Jones continues war of words’ and so on.

    Interviewers push Jones hoping for some immoderate flippant comment to turn into the next headline. Then we have Ardern v Jones.

    Here is the news: Air New Zealand is cutting services to Kāpiti Coast. Air New Zealand has cut services to other regional airports in recent years. Jones is the Minister for Regional Economic Development. The Government has a stake in Air NZ.

    Some ironies of course. No doubt Jones is loathed by a lot of people up and down the country. No doubt they don’t like his manner. When he seems to be coming out swinging for Air NZ to be servicing provincial areas though …

    And of course that style and manner. John Key broke the mould in terms of tradition and protocols, did it his way. Trump threw the book away. People want the job done unbound by traditional approaches – to an extent. Jones tweeting in the early hours? Now that would be a treasure box for our media.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  March 21, 2018

      You post some good comments, duperez. I enjoyed this one.

      • duperez

         /  March 21, 2018

        Thank you. You know as much as anyone that common sense can be expected from posters of the North. 😊

        And on cue, on the scrolling red moving billboard on the top of the Herald site “Shane Jones’ extraordinary outburst at Air NZ…”

        • PartisanZ

           /  March 21, 2018

          Yes, I wonder what the reaction – and the reporting – would have been like if Jones had said all this after NZFirst went with National to form a government …?

    • Traveller

       /  March 21, 2018

      Good take duperez. I’m not sure it’s early morning hours tweeting we need to imagine Mr Jones busy at.

  5. David

     /  March 21, 2018

    Heard Jones on Morning Report, I am still spluttering in outrage outside of Venezeula have never heard the like. 2 million Kiwisaver owners should be rightly pissed off.

    • Gezza

       /  March 21, 2018

      It is certainly making things awkward for Jacinda when Jones seems to be threatening Air NZ. Jonesy still has the capacity to talk shite though:
      “Kiwis got better treatment from second hand car dealers than the country’s national airline.”
      Yet to see a 2nd hand car lift off from a runway.

    • PartisanZ

       /  March 21, 2018

      What you might be spluttering with outrage about is that you haven’t heard such language from the mouth of a NZ politician for 30 or more years? You’re having a tribal reaction?

      The cult of neoliberalism is under threat …

      But really Jones is just reviving a fairly recent historical language – the lingo of a decent society – which has been masked for some time by quantum individual greed and its commensurate mass amnesia.

      Regional development, provincial growth, resilient local economies, “our provinces” and “our rural communities” … These are ideas and terminology many people under 40 may never have heard in their lives …

      Doesn’t make it wrong … and actually … it doesn’t make it Venezuelan either!

      • Gezza

         /  March 21, 2018

        What Jonesy’s talking about might be that AirNZ should be prepared to use its overall profits to subsidise uneconomic air services. The problem with that is that it may reduce profitability & open NZ airways up to too much competition from airlines who don’t have to exacerbating the problem & requiring handing the airline back to full control by the government, only to have the next one part-privatise it again.

        • PartisanZ

           /  March 21, 2018

          Measured by purely economic terms there probably wouldn’t be any ‘provinces’ any more …

          This is where ‘profitability’ comes into conflict with ‘livability’ …

          • Gezza

             /  March 21, 2018

            Yes. If it doesn’t pay or provide a profitable living to someone to provide a service the service often either doesn’t get provided or a charity or community has to fund it or the government has to pay for one with taxes. It’s ever been that way with transport services I think. Ever since the days of stagecoaches.

            • Blazer

               /  March 21, 2018

              Private profit driven bus companies receive millions in subsidies in NZ.

            • Gezza

               /  March 21, 2018

              Tell Jonesy. But I don’t think it’ll mollify him much. I don’t think he thinks they should have to use the buses.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  March 21, 2018

        Old-fashioned political posturing will never go out of date. Of course if the likes of Jones ran the airline it would have outcomes like this:
        https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/companies-and-deals/saa-debt-at-r13-8bn-losses-to-widen-executives/

      • David

         /  March 21, 2018

        Flying a 15 seater plane twice a day does nothing for economic growth. Having a minister demand a publicly listed company do something that costs shareholders money so he can get more votes or he will have the board fired is 3rd world. If not stamped on who will invest in the region’s.. .domestically or foreign

      • PartisanZ

         /  March 21, 2018

        Alan, There’s no comparison between South African Airlines and AirNZ … and a limited amount to compare between SA and NZ altogether …

        Continually using SA comparisons is tantamount to scaremongering IMHO.

        David, presumably it was economic growth and perhaps even regional development that made regional services viable in the first place? Or was it simply that AirNZ felt a social responsibility to provide provincial transport?

        We know ‘social responsibility’ is pretty much gone from a world run by ‘corporate ethics’.

        This government is answering your last question as we speak. The people of Aotearoa New Zealand will invest in their regions via their government … with its influence on and partnership with private business … in the absence of purely shareholder-driven domestic or foreign investment … which is often very much a two-edged sword … an example being the recent Korean Guru Ichi Lee’s ‘investments’ in Northland especially Kerikeri …

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11977304

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  March 21, 2018

          There are very many national airlines in deep financial strife. Running a profitable and sound airline is not for idiots or to be jeopodised by political idiots. That is what happened to SAA. It is just a current extreme example.

      • David

         /  March 21, 2018

        PartisanZ
        “Regional development, provincial growth, resilient local economies, “our provinces” and “our rural communities” … These are ideas and terminology many people under 40 may never have heard in their lives …”

        Is that a quote from a Trump speech?

        • PartisanZ

           /  March 21, 2018

          Touche Sir! And now … a duel … Words at e-sPACES …

          “In the early nineties, political theorist Francis Fukuyama famously proclaimed the “End of History” was upon us – that Western liberal democracy was the “endpoint in mankind’s ideological evolution … the final form of human government” – Kieran Madden, Maxim Institute

          Fukuyama is correct in a sense. While human government will go on ‘evolving’, there is nowhere ‘new’ for it to go (or so it appears to most people).

          Hence, what was once ‘radical’ is now ‘populist’ when it challenges the current ‘orthodoxy’ … which was once ‘radical’ …

          Debate becomes recycling the old recycled derisions once used against one which one once used against another …

          My paragraph is, if you like, motivated by the same or similar ‘energy’ to a Trumpism and Trumpites … What Madden (a Christian Conservative no less) describes as “broader discontent with the way things are, people have had enough of feeling powerless” …

          He and his Think Tank cronies weren’t saying this kind of shit a year ago when National were still in power I can tell you …

          So yes, it might have been a quote from a Trump speech … except Donald Trump isn’t intelligent enough to have thought it up …

  6. artcroft

     /  March 21, 2018

    Jones is auditioning to be Winston’s successor. Jacinda should get used to this crap. There’s much more to come.

    • Corky

       /  March 21, 2018

      Will Winston have a successor, Arty? Does a gold town with no gold and people moving on need a mayor?

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 21, 2018

    Jacinda has rebuked Jones for threatening the CEO. He’s looking stupid. Don’t know if his constituency care.

    • Gezza

       /  March 21, 2018

      “This afternoon Jones said his morning remarks had gone through a “process of refinement”.

      “Both Grant [Robertson] and the Prime Minister have said ‘Shane, you have a strong view as a regional provincial champion, but you have no authority to effect changes at the level of the board’.”

      “And I accept that.”
      … … …
      No worries. All fixed, Al.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  March 21, 2018

        Shoved a cork in it?

        • Gezza

           /  March 21, 2018

          Absolutely! 👍🏼

          (Doubt it – Corky’s reading it right I reckon)

          • Gezza

             /  March 21, 2018

            Oops – not Corky – arty. Shane setting himself up to take over NZF when Winnie does his swan song. Jones is dumb though, imo.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  March 21, 2018

              Yes, I had given Arty an uptick too. Jacinda will need a good supply of corks.

  8. Gezza

     /  March 21, 2018

    By the time 1ewes’s Katie Bradford had finished showing all the 1 second clips of what Jacinda said, what Jones said indicating no apologies, what Winston said about it not being his job to tell Jones off, what Robertson said about the board doing a good job, & what Simon said about threatening to sack board members not being on, the coalition looked like an utter shambles.

    • David

       /  March 21, 2018

      First time I have watched the news in 6 months, lasted 6 minutes. What terrible coverage of the story after 5 minutes of fawning coverage of an ex president who was slightly less popular than the current one.

  9. David

     /  March 21, 2018

    Jones has carefully cultured this verbosity like he is a latter day Churchill pontificating his words of wisdom and great soundbites but the problem is that doesnt gel with the personal abuse he hurled around today, he effects this great strain to rise to his feet in question time as if its some great imposition to have to account for himself as a minister which makes him look ridiculous and pompous.
    He should remember to most people he looks like a rather overweight fella who is in his position by accident not talent and he was the guy who charged porn to the taxpayers, had some interesting input granting citizenship to a Chinese guy with an interesting past in spite of DIA warnings and skipped out on his wife and 7 kids. Jones has always been told he is destined for greatness and it has never happened and never will.