Air NZ quiet on drunk crew claims

Last updated 21:04 01/08/2014

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Air New Zealand says it has no comment to make on claims that some air crew were drunk during a prolonged stay in Honolulu which saw 223 passengers stranded for three days.

The airline is investigating pilots and other crew members as part of its inquiry into the failure of flight NZ9 to take off for Auckland on Sunday.

There were two Air NZ Boeing 767 crews in Honolulu during the delays and there have been anonymous claims some crew members were drinking as late as 5am and were ‘‘trashed’’, the New Zealand Herald reported.

It understood they would been unfit for duty at one stage even if their plane had been airworthy.

In an internal letter leaked to the newspaper, managers at Air NZ were disappointed with the quality of behaviour of staff.

‘‘I’m sure many of you share our embarrassment at the way the actions of some of our peers have impacted on the reputation of our professions both with our customers and within Air New Zealand,’’ Leeanne Langridge and Darin Stringer said in the letter.

When asked to confirm the allegations, Air NZ spokeswoman Marie Hosking said the delays with the flight were related to ongoing engineering issues.

The airline has launched an internal review of the delay and their management of the situation – both from customer and operational perspectives.

‘‘This review includes the performance of all functions involved with the disruption, including pilots and cabin crew,’’ she said.

The debacle for passengers began when an on-board system indicated there was a fault with an engine. However, there was no fault and a new part was required for the safety system.

An initial replacement, sourced from the US, failed to resolve the issue and another had to be sent from Auckland.

In the meantime, passengers were ferried back and forth between the airport and a hotel. Elderly passengers and families travelling with children were especially affected as the group was made to wait for hours in an area without air conditioning.

Earlier this week Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon told staff he was personally overseeing the review.

‘‘Events like our management of NZ9 have a big impact on our reputation and the trust customers place in us, ‘‘ Luxon said. ‘‘Put simply, we failed more than 200 customers, and as chief executive officer, I am ultimately accountable for this.’’

Hosking said the preliminary outcome of the review was due by the end of next week.

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