INDEPENDENT NEWS

Airways’ Staff Selloff

Published: Tue 16 May 2000 11:46 AM
Radio New Zealand News has learned from a key source that three key Airways Corp staff were to be “sold” to an international consortium planning to buy Britain's national air-traffic control system.
The three staff were part of a package offered to international partners that are investigating the purchase of the UK system along with the State Owned Enterprise.
State Owned Enterprises Minister Mark Burton is today examining over 40 pages of documents and files from the Airways Corporation and from the former Corporation company secretary over the matter.
Mr Burton’s said the Government is also concerned whether the “executive sale” is appropriate behaviour for a state-owned enterprise.
The Former Secretary Ezequiel Trumper’s alleged “hush money” payout package of $185,000 will also be investigated, with the confidentiality clause surrounding his payout being temporarily lifted last week.
The Airways Corporation is the latest SOE to fall into the Government firing line after the controversy with state enterprise Television New Zealand and WINZ.
Problems within the organisation first surfaced two weeks ago when New Zealand First leader Winston Peters claimed former secretary Ezequiel Trumper was paid hush money to leave the Airways Corporation after raising his concerns about operations with the board.
Last week Mr Peters used parliamentary privilege to claim that four Airway’s executives were set to gain $30 million in a joint deal to buy a share in Britain's national air-traffic control system.
Yesterday, two of the executives Corporation chairman John Maasland and chief executive Craig Sinclair called a press conference to reject Mr Peter’s allegations and to explain their reasons for courting the overseas business.
But less than an hour later SOE Minister Mark Burton criticised the Airways Corporation management over the time their chief executive had spent overseas. Mr. Burton was also scathing of the Corporation for not telling him of the organisation’s troubles, which started months ago.
Prime Minister Helen Clark has also not ruled out a public inquiry into the Corporation - a decision on this which would be made after the preliminary investigations were concluded.
Meanwhile, Corporation Chairman John Maasland has defended the Corporation’s actions over the deal, including basing staff overseas, as part of a legitimate expansion of the organisation’s business.
He has also defended the way the board handled the resignation of Mr Trumper dismissing the matter as “an internal matter which was settled.”

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