COMMENT:

It isn't cool to defend Air New Zealand. But on balance, I think we should.

As far back as I can remember, no matter how successful our airline has been, we have been itching to hate them. In the bad old days of the NAC, Erebus and government departments, like all those businesses at the time there was a lot not to like.

But of late, they have been one of the world's great airlines. They have won any number of awards, they have been recognised for innovation and antipodean edginess, and I suppose, ultimately, they have made a shed load of money.

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Overall, in their new-ish guise they have been a rock star airline.

But even in those days, there was never a lack of those, just below the surface, on the end of the phone or a text, ready to take a pop.

Maybe it's the curse of being big? Or having been bailed out by the state? Or being corporate? Who would know, but the balance was never there. The acrimony over the slightest bad day, never balanced with the accolades of the best days.

Now, they seem in a world of trouble with everyone who's ever bought a ticket but hasn't been able to fly for reasons well beyond anyone's fault. The credit v refund scandal of 2020 is raging, and as far as I can work out there will be, and can be, no winners. Because essentially no one is really wrong.

To be fair, the airline has communicated appallingly. The new CEO Greg Foran was nowhere to be seen for weeks until we called him out last Friday morning, and almost as if by magic that afternoon he appeared with a message of renewal and hope that would take about 800 days.

But look at Jetstar, and this is what prompted this. They could not run for the hills as soon as trouble hit. Then they come back with some tempting offers for cheap seats then promptly cancelled the services. Now that we are in level one, guess who's back?

That is called a fair weather friend, a fly by nighter, no pun intended. That's a company here for the good times, not the long haul.

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Air New Zealand has gone nowhere. They can't go anywhere, they have a responsibility to this country, and as a result have to run their operation in a different way to others. They don't get to pick and choose, come and go. They are here through thick and thin, and that counts for something. Wandering in and out on a mood is easy.

So when Jetstar offers you $29 fares, are you buying them? And if you are, what happened to supporting local?

On balance we are lucky to have Air New Zealand. Your refund is a lost job or more debt for a company in real trouble, and it's our company.

They didn't wake up to give you a hard time. Longevity, relationships, and consistency and goodwill count.

No, they're not perfect. But on balance, they don't deserve the bagging they're currently getting either.