29 Oct 2008

Oxfam criticises New Zealand airline policy

5:10 pm on 29 October 2008

The aid agency Oxfam New Zealand has criticised Air New Zealand's plans to reduce airlinks of small Pacific Island countries to the US if they refuse to pay subsidies.

The three countries are Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands.

Oxfam's executive director, Barry Coates, says this goes against the New Zealand government's commitment to support economic development in the Pacific.

Mr Coates says it is incredible that Air New Zealand, which is three-quarters owned by the New Zealand government, is threatening to cut services while the same government is encouraging its Pacific neighbours to grow their economies through tourism and trade.

He says the proposal put to the three Pacific countries calls into question the coherence of the New Zealand policy as a high proportion of the New Zealand aid budget is focused on the Pacific region.