An Air New Zealand crew member was fired after she allegedly tried to board a rival company's plane to have a look at it - delaying the flight she was working on.

Helen Watson, a flight services manager with 26 years experience, was fired last August after an internal investigation found her actions amounted to serious misconduct.

Air NZ alleges Watson was waiting for a flight to Rarotonga, which she was working on, when she saw an Emirates flight at another boarding gate using a Boeing 777-300 aircraft, a model Air NZ had on order.

The person in charge of the departure gate complained Ms Watson went down the bridge and picked up a document containing a list of the Emirates crew.


An Emirates representative then asked why she had tried to go on the plane.

Ms Watson allegedly replied: "Curiosity, do you know how to spell it?", before apologising to the captain and chief purser on the flight.

Emirates complained about the incident and Air NZ launched a disciplinary investigation.

Air NZ said she was partly responsible for her flight being 36 minutes late, spoke sarcastically to an Emirates ground representative and breached security protocol, which all were factors in her dismissal.

But Ms Watson argued she left the area as soon as she was told she could not go on the Emirates plane.

She has launched a personal grievance case against her former employer with the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

In a report released today the ERA said her application would be referred to a member of the ERA to proceed with arrangements for an investigation.

Air NZ said because the matter was still to be before the authority it would be inappropriate to comment.