Air New Zealand passengers stranded for days in Hawaii are
"gobsmacked" at revelations crew were out drinking, making
them unfit for duty if the plane had been made airworthy.
Several crew who were in Hawaii this week to fly stranded
passengers home are believed to have been warned that they
were unfit to fly, after drinking.
The Weekend Herald understands that the airline would have
been unable to assemble a full crew, even if the plane had
been operational. This has sparked an internal investigation.
The crew's breach of the 12-hour "bottle to throttle"
no-drinking rule has prompted a stern warning from Air New
Zealand managers, who say a "small group" is not living up to
the airline's standards.
"You are responsible for ensuring you are rested, fit and
healthy and available to deliver the great service our
customers expect and deserve," airline bosses told them in a
The airline would not comment on anonymous claims that
members of two crews who ended up in Honolulu were out
drinking to as late as 5am and were "trashed".
A faulty warning light which forced the Boeing 767's pilots
to abort a takeoff on Sunday night (NZT) led to an ordeal of
up to 56 hours for the 227 passengers.
Passenger Phil Wardale said he was "absolutely disgusted and
further angered" at the latest revelations.
He said communication from Air New Zealand was lacking and he
was "sick in the knowledge" that crew might have been out
drinking while passengers, including parents with children,
waited for news about their flights.
Another passenger, Paul Cavanagh, who finally got home from
Hawaii yesterday morning, said he hadn't seen any evidence
during the ordeal of crew drinking. "If it's true, it's
He and his family hadn't had an issue with the flight being
delayed: "It was just the communication and repetitively
being dragged out to the airport for no apparent reason."
If staff were out "partying up" while stranded passengers
were "on call" waiting for information, he wouldn't be happy.
The standard staffing of a Boeing 767 is three pilots and
seven cabin crew. Two crews were in Honolulu during the
In a media release yesterday, the airline said the delays
with Flight NZ9 from Honolulu to Auckland were "entirely
related" to ongoing engineering issues and challenges
securing a necessary part.
"As previously stated, we have launched a comprehensive
internal review of all aspects surrounding the delays and our
management of the situation, both from the customer and
operational perspectives. This review includes the
performance of all functions involved with the disruption,
including pilots and cabin crew."
A preliminary outcome of the review was expected by the end
of next week.
Stranded passengers were left waiting for taxis following the
Sunday night incident, struggled to find hotels and faced
several false starts after returning to the airport.
Customers complained of poor customer service and
communication from the airline, and a lack of sympathy from
staff on the ground. They were offered $1000 in compensation.
The letter from cabin crew general manager Leeanne Langridge
and pilots general manager Darin Stringer says crew must
remain contactable, stay rested and ensure they are prepared
for duty when the need arises.
"I'm sure many of you share our embarrassment at the way the
actions of some of our peers have impacted on the reputation
of our professions both with our customers and within Air New
The letter follows an internal memo to staff from chief
executive Christopher Luxon in which he said the airline had
failed more than 200 customers.
"As chief executive officer, I am ultimately accountable for
In the memo, Mr Luxon said events like the management of NZ9
had a big impact on Air New Zealand's reputation and the
trust customers placed in the airline.
He said the company had been let down by some of its 11,000
staff and some suppliers.
In the past few months, Air New Zealand has dealt with a
number of embarrassing incidents that made headlines,
including a standoff between pilots over cockpit entry, a
Transport Accident Investigation Commission report into a
potentially dangerous landing at Christchurch, a former cabin
crew member being accused of importing drugs sewn into his
uniform, and the bussing of passengers from Christchurch to
Nelson during a storm at Easter after flight cancellations.