Government expresses sympathy for families of Air NZ crash victims

Prime Minister John Key has expressed sympathy to the families of those killed in a plane crash off France today.

Five New Zealanders are given no hope of surviving the crash of an Airbus A320 operated by XL Airways of Germany in the Mediterranean.

One Air New Zealand pilot, three engineers and a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) inspector were among the seven people on the aircraft, which crashed off Perpignan, in southeast France.

The Airbus was being flown by two XL Airways pilots.

At least three people have been confirmed dead while the four others are missing.

One of CAA's Wellington staff is thought to be among the missing.

A spokesman for Prime Minister John Key said he would hold a press conference early this afternoon in Wellington to talk about the crash.

"This is obviously a tragic situation for the families of the people killed and also for the airline. We are in touch with Air New Zealand and the Civil Aviation Authority."

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the Government was getting regular updates, and seeking briefings from officials.

"Obviously the New Zealand Government has grave concerns and is being updated on developments."

Mr Joyce said it was premature to comment on what shape any investigation might take, but he expected New Zealand agencies to play a part.

"But our thoughts right now are with the families, friends, and colleagues of those who were on board."

- NZPA

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