24 Oct 2009

Air NZ apologises to relatives of Erebus crash

11:59 am on 24 October 2009

Air New Zealand has apologised to relatives of those lost in the Erebus disaster, acknowledging the company let them down at the time.

The sightseeing flight to Antarctica hit the slopes of Mt Erebus on 28 November 1979, killing all 257 people on board.

The apology was made during the unveiling of a sculpture, titled Momentum, at the airline's headquarters in Auckland on Friday.

Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe told the gathering he was sorry people did not receive the support and compassion they should have. He hoped they would accept the apology.

Mr Fyfe says the sculpture is intended as a place of reflection for families of those lost in the Erebus disaster and for those who lost loved ones in last year's Air New Zealand Airbus crash off the French coast near Perpignan, which claimed seven lives.

An accident investigation at the time laid the blame for the Erebus crash on the pilot, Jim Collins.

On Friday, his wife Maria Collins said while she accepted Mr Fyfe's words, they refer only to how Air New Zealand handled the bereaved families at the time.

Ms Collins said her husband's integrity is still on the line and she wants it fully restored.