Air New Zealand axes 'Beastheim'

Last updated 09:21 31/10/2012

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Air New Zealand has got into the Halloween spirit on its grabaseat site by renaming destinations in line with the theme of the day, but in Blenheim the attempted joke did not seem so funny.

Auckland became Spookland, Christchurch is Witchchurch, Rotorua is Rottingrua, and Wellington is Spellington on the low-fare site. Bit of a chuckle there.

But when it comes to Blenheim, the airline came up with the name Beastheim.

That seems a questionable choice, given the town’s link with to sex predator Stewart Murray Wilson, who has been dubbed The Beast of Blenheim and who was released from prison in August amidst a blaze of publicity.

Marlborough District Council Mayor Alistair Sowman, a Blenheim resident, said he was ‘‘very disappointed’’ with the airline’s choice of name for the town.

It was a totally unacceptable cheap shot, he said.

‘‘I’m extremely disappointed if that’s what Air New Zealand has done.

‘‘We have enough problems now trying to put that name behind us,’’ Sowman said.

‘‘We’re trying to get past that stage in the town’s history.’’

He called on Air New Zealand to apologise to the people of Blenheim, and was hopeful the airline could change the name chosen for the town.

‘‘We have victims still living in this town and I think they would be horrified to think Air New Zealand found something funny about this.’’

The Mayor  got his wish.

Shortly after Air New Zealand was questioned about the choice of name, Beastheim disappeared from the grabaseat website.

‘‘Grabaseat has taken on board the feedback and is changing the Blenheim name in the Halloween promo,’’ an airline spokeswoman said.

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