September 26, 2017

Air New Zealand hits back at “malicious rumours” about ash cloud safety

Rob Fyfe strikes back at rumours of plane damage by emptying both barrels into Qantas.

Air New Zealand’s chief executive Rob Fyfe has hit back at what he calls a campaign of “malicious rumours” against Air New Zealand that have originated in Australia.

Air New Zealand continued to operate most services during the two most recent ash cloud events while Jetstar and Qantas refused to fly under the ash cloud.

Volcanic ash from the Mount Puyehue Cordon Caulle Volcanoc Chain in Chile drifted across Australia and New Zealand last week and returning in recent days.

Rob Fyfe released a statement today in a bid to quash what he said was misinformation and false rumours against the airline and to assure people the airline was not endangering lives or compromising safety.

Fyfe said despite all those in the flight operations team working hard last week to maintain safe operations “behind the scenes however we were constantly battling a series of malicious rumours that emerged from the Australian market and fed to media, suggesting that Air New Zealand had six aircraft in the hangar with ash damage, an aircraft grounded in Australia with ash damage and an aircraft requiring a nose cone replacement as a result of ash damage”.

“All these stories were a complete fiction and I was left scratching my head as to where these false rumours were coming from.”

“What Alan [Joyce, Qantas CEO] omitted to mention was that it wasn’t just Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia that had managed to adapt their operations to operate safely in clear air, but all airlines apart from Qantas and Jetstar had managed to achieve the vast majority of their operations.”

“What Alan also failed to mention was that Qantas was very happy to transfer thousands of its customers onto Air New Zealand and other airlines’ services, which seems a strange thing to do for your customers if you have concerns about the safety of the airspace.”

Fyfe said Air New Zealand continued to fly with advice from it’s own team and from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority, Met Service and Air Traffic Control/Airways New Zealand.

“Whenever we perceived a risk that our clear air requirements would be compromised we ceased services, but fortunately this happened on relatively few occasions.”

Fyfe said with ash re-entering Australian airspace today the airline would again have a busy time ahead and the airline would “continue to adopt a similar approach to flight to that we achieved last week, maintaining operations where we are confident we can do so safely without any heightened risk to our aircraft, crew and passengers”.

“It is also likely that we will see Qantas and Jetstar come under further customer and media pressure if they continue to adopt this strategy of grounding aircraft and it is possible that we will continue to see misinformation and false rumours emerge in the market.”