GUEST BLOG: The Lockdown With Bryan Bruce Day 7 : Should We Buy Back Air NZ?


In 1989  the 4th Labour Government 1989 sold off Air New Zealand.

Why? Because the neoliberal mantra of the day back then was that Governments ought not to be in business. They should leave the marketplace to entrepreneurs and private investors and clever people who knew how to make money.

But then, in 2001 just over a 10 years later , Air New Zealand got into deep financial trouble so the 5th Labour government led by Helen Clarke bought back 80% of it in return for injecting $885 million of our money into it.

Now, you would think we would have learned the lesson from that and other big business  bail outs  that Neoliberal free marketeers are not true to their beliefs . If you don’t want government involved the marketplace  then you ought not to be able to pocket the profits in good time and expect the taxpayer to bail you out in bad times

But we didn’t –

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In November 2013  The National Government ,under John Key, sold down its share in Air NZ from 73% to 53% as part of its asset sales programme and now here we are again bailing it out

Today, through no fault of its own, Air New Zealand is again  in big trouble and the current Labour led government’s solution is not the progressive one they have shown in other area-it’s fundamentally a neoliberal one.

They have offered ,not to buy them out and nationalise Air New Zealand but to provide a standby loan facility of up to $900 million at between 8 and 9%

Now , the  other day  I received an email from Air NZ’s CEO Greg Foran( as did I assume many thousands of New Zealanders who have travelled on our National carrier). In which he said – amongst other things

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Absolutely right 100% Bryan John Key was a turncoat sellout of our counrty simple as that.

    Anyone can sell our assets to make the financail picture look good in the short time it took but now we face years of bad public services of no long haul flights and redused local services all for making “A QUICK BUCK” SO JOHN KEY WAS A “;QUICK BUCK ARTIST”

  2. Don’t you just love Air NZ’s business model: privatize the profits, socialize the losses.

    Yes, buy back Air NZ. And the universities. And the national electricity supply.

    I’m dreaming of course.

    • Brilliant chruskl!

      “privatize the profits, socialize the losses”

      It’s defiantly more appropriate to be the NZ slogan instead of 100% clean green NZ these days.

    • ” Don’t you just love Air NZ’s business model: privatize the profits, socialize the losses ”

      That is the best analogy i have seen for a while that explains Market Neoliberalism and its approach.

      Just like G.W.B and Trump bailing out big business with trillions of dollars but no protection for American workers thrown out of their jobs with NO PAY.

  3. Agree 100% Bryan Bruce, rather than propping up strategic business, just use the markets to buy them back cheap and nationalise them.

    Air travel in addition has been totally overused and that overuse has huge climate change issues going forward as well as bio hazards from so many tourists and visitors and air freight to NZ and so many residents and freight going back and forwards between countries that have high levels of bio hazards.

    Air travel should be used sparingly not $30 travel domestically (of course when all the extra charges are added it is seldom $30) and rock bottom rates becoming the norm for air travel.

    Also it seems that holding onto employees in a crisis is not the neoliberal way, big business have been encouraged by government policy to dump employees and run and then be whining in 1 year how they can’t find staff (who want to work for them) and need more migrant visas to get the next tranche of employees to exploit, after dumping the last lot.

    Redundancy in NZ needs to have mandatory wage payments starting at 3 months wages and up to a year for workers who have been working for over a decade for a company (and redundancy not taxed) so that employees who are let go every five minutes on the whims of management actually get paid enough to survive while they look for their next job. Now we have all the migrants being supported who have no jobs as well as the locals who have no jobs but they are still advertising on overseas websites come to NZ to work, visa’s no problem!.

    The government is forcing other taxpayers in NZ to prop bad employment practises instead of using taxes to upgrade health and education and essential services, and the resulting dept is put on the next generations to pay for the unsustainable folly that was clearly going to be a disaster long before the coronavirus hit.

  4. The problem with government owning a business is that it makes business decisions harder to make and becomes election issues. If they owned Air New Zealand then the Shane Jones of this world would have a field day with picking which towns were serviced .We see this happening with the distribution of the 3 billion fund and more recently the way the money was allocated for roading with the South Island getting pratically nothing. The staffing level at Air NZ have to be appropriate to the work there is other wise we will finish up with another Kiwi rail situation pre Douglas where there were 3 men for every job. I worry that this government will not have the will to make the really hard decisions . Jacinda is great at being nice but tends to backpedaling on being tough.

    • No the problem is National can’t wait to cut all this new spending, privatise state owned assets and do the really really tough policy work of handing out tax cuts.

    • More fake information from Trevor.
      Shane Jones does not pick who gets a slice of the PGF rather regional economic development ministers, senior regional officials including an independent advisory panel. Cabinet in govt decides on projects over $20mil.

      • Shane Jones has given $135 million to Northland Tai Tokarau Canterbury $54 m and Otago $4.m..
        Which seat is he trying to get ?. He is on record of tell foresters that they need to get him back in power to ensure they can still get help. Most of the advances are under the cap . He would have learnt that trick from his leader.

        • I fail to see how you could come up with that theory. Before the Regional Growth Fund it was Steven Joyce and his Minstry for Business Innovation and everything else spending it up on National Party mates, doing suadi sheep bribes, running deception for the TPPA. So what if we are doing it for New Zealanders instead of foriengers?

        • Repeat, in case you missed it the first time Trevor, Shane Jones has not personally given any PGF funding to any specific group of his particular, preferential choice. He is the spokesperson for the PGF, the Champion of the Provinces and the minister of Infrastructure, Forestry and Regional Economic Development.

        • ” If they owned Air New Zealand then the Shane Jones of this world would have a field day with picking which towns were serviced”

          Seymour and Epsom, Seymour Charter Schools, how much was he afforded by National and Key.
          Shane Jones is a saint compared to those rouges!

    • Right on Trev.

      Air NZ is hardly a ‘strategic asset’.

      Its not line the main trunk railway line that cant be replicated.

      Its not the main trunk power carrier that cant be replicated.

      Airlines come and go. Italia and most every other European State owned airline; went under.
      That suggests the best policy is leave providing air transport to mugs who don’t read history,

      Taxpayers money is better spent on hospitals and schools and road networks – the latter like and power trunks: not easy for replicate as a private provider.

      AirNZ are amongst the biggest gougers. Total rip off merchants in domestic prices and internationally, near the top cost to fly. Meanwhile, Shareholders reaped dividends. Executives were over paid.

      I don’t mind flying Emirates or Singapore Air – better service and pricing than AirNZ

    • The South Island received more than its fair share of help from the previous government Trevor. Just look at all the sterling work that Gerry Brownlee did with the Christchurch rebuild. Or how about the $30 million taxpayer subsidy that Bill English gifted to Rio Tinto shareholders just for keeping the Tiwai smelter open. And Bill’s very generous $1.6 billion taxpayer-funded bailout of South Canterbury Finance isn’t to be sneezed at either.

      • Gerry is a big boy but was not responsible for the earthquake . Which ever government was in power the country would have had to spend money to save Chch just as in the past Napier was rebuilt.Much of the money was from EQC which was set up for this situation.
        The South Canterbury bail out was created by a fund started by Dr Micheal Cullen so had very little to do with Bill English as Labour would have had to pay if they had stayed in power.
        Rio Tinto has been supported by both Labour and National . It supports about 800 jobs and earns the country millions in export dollars and it is the greenest aluminum in the World.

        • 1) “Gerry is a big boy but was not responsible for the earthquake.”

          A) Indeed he wasn’t. However he was responsible for organising the rebuild afterwards and it was a complete clusterfuck.

          2) “The South Canterbury bail out was created by a fund started by Dr Micheal Cullen so had very little to do with Bill English as Labour would have had to pay if they had stayed in power.”

          A) Bullshit. South Canterbury Finance was operating well outside the covenants required of companies to be covered government’s deposit guarantee scheme. The National government had absolutely no legal obligation to cover investors’ deposits. It was a political decision on their behalf to do so.

          3) “Rio Tinto has been supported by both Labour and National . It supports about 800 jobs and earns the country millions in export dollars and it is the greenest aluminum in the World.”

          A) Well that’s certainly the line pushed by NZAS’s PR department. There’s no reason NZ taxpayers should be subsidising those particular 800 jobs any more than they should any other jobs (post-Wuhan coronavirus excepted). The NZ Treasury strongly advised against paying Rio Tinto a $30 million subsidy because they said it amounted to a straight transfer of NZ taxpayers money into the pockets of Rio Tinto shareholders.

  5. Bryan Bruce is one of a few political commentators that I find myself constantly in agreement with, – on just about everything ! Jokingly I’ll add ,.. if it was left up to me I’d be nationalizing just about anything and everything that wasn’t nailed down !

    I appreciate your incredible input over the years for this country, Bryan, you’re up there with the likes of Chris Trotter and others for their searing insight, knowledge of history and the ability to translate that into a modern context and how that relates to current issues.

    Asset sales and privatization …! By crikeys , when I look at the ongoing destruction caused by that treasonous political cabal back in the mid 1980’s and early 1990’s – including the Business Roundtable ( now calling itself the NZ Initiative ) – to this country and its people and the poverty out there in the community , all the lies, the deceptions and the trampling of our democracy, the false mandate they claimed they had… my hackles start to rise…

    The mixed economy we had before that worked perfectly fine. We would have weathered the storms of change just like the Scandinavians have if we had persisted . The essential assets we had should never have been sold off under any spurious reasons given by those pirates. Former generations worked hard to build them to provide affordable utilitarian services , – only to have those sadistic neo liberal tapeworms justify flogging them off to fill their own already deep pockets .

    Adding insult to injury , they then plied us with the lie that it would bring ‘competition’ and thus lower prices ( yeah right ! competition in a land that at that time had only 3.4 million people ! ), – then did nothing as these piratical foreigners bought the assets at a fire sale, never improved the infrastructure and then proceeded to ramp up prices !

    Anyone remember Telecom and how that was finally , finally taken to task for price gouging?

    I’m gonna stop. We all know the truth.

    But the fact that those pirates used our democracy to enable their own self enrichment and have never been called to answer for it is the most galling aspect of all.

    There is a macabre kind of rough justice coming because of this corona virus, – the toppling of certain grabastic moneyed empires being one of them. Too bad it took the vengeful forces of nature to do it rather than the forces of good conscience and honesty from human beings…

    • +1 WILD KATIPO,

      although I think the rough justice, (if neoliberal thinking keeps controlling the government thinking in NZ) might just do a 1984, aka the workers are all out of a job on unemployment, while the company shareholders and 1% interests are bailed out.

      Already seeing part of it, with big multinational names and networkers, being used to help with Covid-19 while local voices, local experts and local NZ businesses are drowned out and not part of local and central government usage.

      Sad to say, many experts in NZ are not being utilised in many sectors to combat Covid-19, while the big names and networkers with their often not too competent expertise are used instead.

      See it with Trump and Boris show as well. Our low density population may be the saviour that those countries don’t have, not good management.

  6. Buy Air NZ back ? Fuck that ! Take it back ! By any/ all means necessary.
    We AO/NZ’ers are far too polite when it comes to our abusive criminal elite.

    Someone commented above re electricity.
    Electricity is OURS. It’s a natural resource.
    The retail cost of it is a swindle. Ask any electricity retailer what they do for their money? They literally can’t tell you what they actually do.
    When we pay our electricity bill we, in effect, pay the Mob protection money.
    And if we don’t? They’ll fuck us up.
    This, is what they’ll do to you.
    From Consumer mag stats.

    Disconnections for 2012. / % of domestic customers.
    Bosco 750 2.9
    Contact Energy 796 0.2
    Energy Direct NZ 278 1.9
    Energy Online 280 0.4
    Genesis Energy 4611 1.1
    King Country Energy 97 0.9
    Mercury Energy 570 0.2
    Meridian Energy 2252 1.2
    Nova Energy 11 0.1
    Powershop 239 0.5
    Pulse Utilities 922 3.0
    TrustPower 1034 0.6

    Back to Air NZ.
    Sir John Key. Wonderful man. Beautiful man. A real man. What a man? An amazing man. A tremendous role model.
    And he’s knows this because his mirror tells him so.

    • Gosh wherever Key, goes destruction follows. Examples, The National party loses to Labour and has no talent, ANZ and the expenses gate with their CEO, Air NZ and their new Walmart CEO….. NZ as a country post his leadership that now has growing poverty and unemployment, astonishing pollution, wadeable fresh water, growing poor reputation from everything from NZ degrees to clean green image….

  7. “Back to Air NZ.
    Sir John Key. Wonderful man. Beautiful man. A real man. What a man? An amazing man. A tremendous role model.
    And he’s knows this because his mirror tells him so.”

    Bahahahaha! ”

    “Mirror mirror on the wall who is the most corrupt of all?”

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