I’m surprised and confused. I woke to discover that the leading news this morning is the story of Air New Zealand’s bleating about Mike Pero chartering a plane to take families of Air New Zealand’s Erebus victims to the scene of the disaster on its 30th anniversary. Air New Zealand call his charter flight for family members to fly over the site where 257 people died “deeply disrespectful” and “commercial opportunism of the worst kind.” Story here.
I’m surprised first of all that Air New Zealand would want to mark this particular anniversary by bitching in the press.
This is no ordinary anniversary marking no ordinary series of cock-ups. With what we now know about what Air New Zealand got up to on, after and before that flight – the error programmed into the navigational computer that put them on a flight path straight into a mountain; the damning of the dead pilots; the litany of lies orchestrated by Air New Zealand under Morrie Davis to cover up their responsibility for the tragedy; the use of the Prime Minister to protect the government department that was (and still is) Air New Zealand) by damning Justice Mahon and his subsequent report – we now know that the disaster itself and the incompetence, dishonesty, bullying and frankly scurrilous behaviour on show mark one of the blackest and most disgusting stories in New Zealand history. 257 deaths and a disgracefully cynical attempt at a cover up.
You’d think that instead of shooting their mouths off in the press Air New Zealand would want instead to mark the occasion by keeping them tight shut, and by doing something special for all the families.
But they can’t do either. Instead they’re shooting their mouths off to condemn somebody who is. So that’s not just surprising, is it. The chutzpah of it is astonishing.
And I’m deeply confused, too. Air New Zealand is taking only six family members to the ice thirty years after 257 people died there, leaving an unfilled demand from hundreds more that Mike Pero is stepping in to supply at his own risk. That looks to me like commercial opportunism of the best kind – offering a service to families wanting to go to where their loved ones died that the carrier responsible for killing them can’t even be bothered meeting. A service that families appear to be eager to take up, or Mr Pero wouldn’t be making the offer. A service which is entirely their business if they want to take it up, not Air New Zealand’s.
So that’s confusing, isn’t it? Sure, Air New Zealand has been a government department for most of its life, and it was responsible for one of the worst chapters in New Zealand commercial history, but today it likes to at least pretend that it’s a real business (which I’ll start to believe when it starts to refunds taxpayers what it owes them), so you’d like to think it might now have discovered some idea of what honesty, decency and commercial reality looks like.
Or has it?
UPDATE: For those who need reminding of the history, or who weren't alive here at the time, this fairly even-handed Dominion report on the Erebus Crash: Myths & Reality is worth catching up on.