Michael Cullen on Air New Zealand

Published: Thu 13 Sep 2001 11:59 AM
Cullen on Air New Zealand after a meeting with the ad hoc Minister's group and talking on a conference call to Crown negotiators.
9.45 pm 12 September 2001
MC We may hear something more tonight, we are more likely to hear something in the morning.
Q. Has government received refinancing proposal from Air New Zealand?
MC There are proposals under discussion at this point
Q. What does voluntary administration of Ansett mean at this point?
MC Obviously it means a big write down of the value arising out of that plus in some ways it gives greater certainty of the frame work
Q. So it means there is a greater chance of survival of core Air New Zealand?
MC I think it makes the framework in which we are operating a little more certain, that perhaps assists in defining any package.
Q. Are you going to raise the cap?
MC That’s never actually been an issue. From the time we started negotiations – again this is one of those areas in which there has been an extraordinary amount of misreporting and people interviewing their own typewriters or biros – right from the start of negotiations, negotiations were based on a lift of the cap. We have never taken the position the cap wasn’t going to be lifted.
Q. Are we [you] going to have something thrashed out tomorrow morning, in time for Air New Zealand's statement?
MC We certainly hope so. We think it would be helpful for them if that is the case.
Q. Impact on Australia & political?
MC My understanding is that the voluntary administrator will be discussing matters with the Australian government. That is totally in the hands of the administrator. It is no longer an issue for which we have any degree of responsibility.
Q. Are we nearly there [reaching an agreement]?
MC We are closer than we were but there are still some important issues where I think the government has a responsibility on behalf of the public.
Q. Is Air New Zealand going to survive?
MC I certainly hope so. The government's intention for some time now has been to make sure that Air New Zealand survives. At the start of the negotiations that didn't seem to be really the issue, but as matters unfolded it became more of the issue.
Q. Are the A & B shares going to disappear?
MC I think it is extraordinarily likely they are going to be merged.
Q. What now?
MC We will be in touch.
NB there were a few more questions but a bit 'drifty' to be useful. You know what you journos are like – can never say goodbye!

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