Air New Zealand chairman Tony Carter has issued a sharply-worded rebuke to a shareholder who, at the airline's annual meeting this afternoon, criticised his actions during a flight delay in Hong Kong.
Carter was among around 80 passengers who had to spend the night in Hong Kong airport at the weekend after an engineering failure and a passing typhoon caused a big delay on a flight to Auckland.
Accommodation could not be found for all of the passengers, as a major festival was taking place in the former British territory.
The flight arrived in Auckland on Monday morning.
The shareholder, citing a Herald report of the delay, accused Carter of "playing tiddlywinks on his email" at the airport instead of communicating with other passengers.
"This was an opportunity for the chairman to do a public relations job for the company and what did he do? [He] did nothing."
The shareholder was cut short by Air New Zealand deputy chair Jan Dawson, who said the investor was incorrect.
"I'm happy to let Tony [Carter] answer the question but I think that it is inappropriate to comment when you're not firsthand there [in Hong Kong]," she said.
Carter said he took exception to the shareholder's comments.
"I did go and talk to passengers," he said. "To say I was fiddling around playing with emails is ridiculous. I did do some emails - we were there for 17 hours. Of course I communicated."
Carter said he had an "email discussion" with Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon while in Hong Kong "explaining that the initial communication of the incident [to passengers] was a little disappointing".
"But after a couple of hours they got that sorted out and the incident was handled as well as could be," he said. "Sir, I must admit I think to take what has been reported in one article, by one passenger, as gospel, is pretty disappointing."
That comment prompted a round of applause from the other shareholders present at the meeting.
Meanwhile, Air New Zealand - which announced a record full-year profit of $327 million in August - has delivered an upbeat outlook for the 2016 financial year.
The company said it was pleased with its first quarter performance and was on target to deliver a pre-tax profit of $400 million in the first half.
The business was well positioned as a result of factors including buoyant tourism numbers, low fuel prices and an increasingly efficient fleet, Air New Zealand said.
The company said it expected domestic network capacity growth of 8 per cent in the 2016 year, while international long-haul growth of 15 per cent was also anticipated.
"I'm very proud to report that I think the company is in the best shape that it's ever been in," Luxon said. "We are not just surviving we're thriving and that's only because of the support that we get from you [shareholders] and the public of New Zealand."
All of the resolutions made at the meeting - including Carter's re-election and an increase in directors' fees - were passed.