NZ Airline Criticized Over Iraq Flights

The government criticized national carrier Air New Zealand on Wednesday for ferrying Australian troops on charter flights to the Iraq war, which New Zealand does not support.

NZ Airline Criticized Over Iraq Flights
The airline, 76 percent owned by the government, said it had operated two flights carrying Australian troops bound for Iraq, flying into Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Air New Zealand said the flights were commercial operations but the carrier had told government officials about them "as a courtesy."

"It's certainly not appropriate from our point of view that ... our national flag carrier should be conveying troops to fight in a war that we do not support," Defense Minister Phil Goff told reporters.

"Air New Zealand's action I think is contrary to the wishes and the views of this government," Goff said.

Prime Minister Helen Clark's government has been staunch in its opposition to the war, refusing to send fighting troops, although it did send about 100 engineers for one year to aid reconstruction in the south of the country.

Goff said that while Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials had been told in January that the airline was looking at the charter proposal, Air New Zealand did not advise the ministry when the flights went ahead.

The flights took place in May, according to Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who said he was not told of the flights until Wednesday.

Last Mod: 15 Ağustos 2007, 19:21
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