Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe has accused police of intentionally setting out to undermine confidence in the airline.

But Police Minister Judith Collins said police did not seek publicity about drink-driving cases by airline staff, but simply released information when it was requested.

Mr Fyfe wrote to Police Commissioner Howard Broad yesterday, annoyed at comments Superintendent John Kelly, Auckland road policing manager, made in an internal memo in December which was released to TV3 under the Official Information Act.

The memo referred to a meeting with the airline 18 months earlier at which police voiced concerns about four cases of drink-driving in the year to May 2008. There were also three others in the past three years that the airline did not know about.

"As an aside, this may be the tip of the iceberg ... There may be many others who have not been identified as Air New Zealand staff or who have been apprehended elsewhere and so have not come to my attention," Mr Kelly said.

Mr Fyfe this morning accused Mr Kelly of intentionally undermining the airline.

"I am not angry, I am just disappointed and confused as to why this particular superintendent has chosen to attack Air New Zealand publicly rather than take the opportunity to try and discuss with us what we are doing," he told Radio New Zealand.

"I think anything that undermines or sets out to undermine confidence in the airline is damaging and I think certainly the superintendent appears to have set out to do that and that causes me concern and that's why I am trying to clarify his comments."

Police National Headquarters declined to respond to the remarks.

Ms Collins said Mr Broad was the right person to seek comment from, but she did say that police had not sought publicity.

"There's always someone ready to bag the police if they don't release information under the OIA. They do and they get attacked again."

She was satisfied with how police had handled the situation.

"I think it's also important to recognise that police have a duty to alert Air New Zealand to any issues of public safety that they think is appropriate."

Ms Collins did not recall being briefed about the issue but said it was an operational matter and she would not expect that.

Mr Fyfe said today in the 2008 year the memo referred to there were 32,000 drink drive convictions nationally. On a population basis that would see 120 airline staff convicted but that was not the case.

"We are actually doing much better than the national average. We would like to see that at zero but rather than attack us, I would think the police would be looking and saying how is Air New Zealand doing so much better than the national average and how can other companies learn from Air New Zealand."

He said the airline helped rehabilitate staff who suffered addiction problems and on occasion had sacked people.

Mr Broad last night issued a statement accepting the "numbers involved are a small percentage of all of Air NZ employees".

"Superintendent John Kelly made a judgment in relation to the knowledge that he had about employees of Air NZ that had been caught over the blood-alcohol limit on their way to work.

"The information Superintendent Kelly had was sufficient for him to decide that he ought to discuss the matter with the Air NZ administration to ensure that Air NZ had appropriate policies in place. Following those emails he was given assurances from the airline and police were satisfied they had sufficient policies in place."

- NZPA