A confidential strategy document outlining Air New Zealand's plans for saving money and finding new business was accidentally released internally, sparking concerns the information would be made public.
The draft document was accidentally saved into the company's intranet - known as Korunet. From there, staff concerned they were affected by forecast changes copied and circulated the document internally.
The Herald has been told the document forecast changes in its maintenance division, including possible job losses.
The company confirmed last night significant changes were underway to its heavy maintenance division. It also described the document as "an old and out-of-date version of an internal discussion document" - even though it was on the "Go Beyond" strategy, which was launched internally this year.
The airline was said to be concerned confidential information was going to be made public so yesterday tracked down and destroyed hard copies. The Herald was also told it was scanning email systems to see if it had been sent outside the corporate network.
It is believed the company's aircraft maintenance general manager Bob De Groot wrote the document for an upcoming executive committee meeting. Mr De Groot's strategy document - which was under 10 pages - was the maintenance division's contribution to the Go Beyond strategy, which is the brainchild of new chief executive Christopher Luxon.
The draft of Mr De Groot's contribution to the strategy was said to have included plans to outsource the airline's heavy maintenance division by contracting overseas companies to do the work.
The Herald was told the plan fitted with an expected drop in heavy maintenance - the five-yearly checks which involved stripping down aircraft.
The work was expected to reduce because it was phasing out particular types of passenger aircraft. The airline hoped to secure new business by shifting its workshop to focus on light maintenance, possibly at the cost of 150 jobs.
In a statement, chief operations officer Bruce Parton confirmed the reduction in heavy maintenance work. He said the airline was preparing to introduce the Boeing 777-300 and the 787-9.
"These aircraft do not require heavy maintenance for at least the first decade of their life."
Computer forensics expert Daniel Ayers, who runs Elementary Solutions, said it sounded as if a mistake had occurred when the document was saved.
"It looks like the root cause of this is human error associated with internal political pressures in the organisation."