GARY TOOMEY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, AIR NEW ZEALAND/ANSETT
Gary Toomey: I don't think we could say we've made any more progress. Obviously the government has gone into another phase of further consultation. They have established a committee and I'll be meeting with that committee next week, so I guess we are still waiting to hear the ultimate outcome.
Reporter: How have things changed since we last talked which was about 5 weeks ago?
Gary Toomey: I don't think anything has actually changed other then the fact that I think the Australian government has come out saying that they favour a Qantas solution. As a result of that of course, we the board, met on Wednesday, and we issued a further statement reiterating our support for the Singapore proposal.
Reporter: How do you rate your chances now?
Gary Toomey: Look I think it is very difficult for me to say how we would rate our chances. We can only keep trying to convince principally the New Zealand government but of course the Australian is now involved as well but principally our Kiwi shareholder is the New Zealand government, so we need to keep talking to them.
Reporter: Your proposals are with the New Zealand government, have you detected any change of heart?
Gary Toomey: Well I think, depends how you interpret statements but during the early part of this week, Minister Cullen, the finance minister did come out stating clearly that his comments should not be interpreted as being in favour of any particular proposal, that they had an open mind on the situation.
Reporter: Qantas has obviously been very active and as you say they have the support of the Australian government?
Gary Toomey: Yes, I think that is right.
Reporter: Did it surprise you the way Mr Anderson swung in behind Qantas?
Gary Toomey: Yes it did surprise us. We had had discussions with the Prime Minister and with Minister Anderson and had clearly stated our preference for the Singapore proposal as it is called. I mean we call it the Singapore proposal but it is effectively the decision of our board of course to put forward a proposal where Singapore takes a greater equity stake, but yes, it was surprising.
Reporter: Mr Anderson must have damaged your case?
Gary Toomey: Well, look, I think the issue is that at the moment our principle concern is to work with the New Zealand government, they are as I say, our Kiwi shareholder and we'll continue to do that. Although I've been in Canberra today talking to officials down there just reiterating our position.
Reporter: But it was a tough arrogant stance by Mr Anderson wasn't it?
Gary Toomey: Look Helen, you know I don't like to get involved in the politics of the situation. I think that all I can say is that we were surprised.
Reporter: Up until now he seemed to be your pal?
Gary Toomey: Well I'm not sure that I would say he was our pal, but we certainly I felt, had a good relationship and I hope we still do.
Reporter: Have you had to remind the Australian government of the importance of Ansett?
Gary Toomey: Yes, I think this week I've been around and spoken to about 2000 of our staff throughout Australia, and the thing that they are telling me or asking me I suppose, is how this position from the Australian government reflects on them. They feel that they are of course Australian citizens and they are hearing a lot about Qantas but they'd also like to think that the Australian government had a concern for them also.
Reporter: With the Australian government supporting Qantas, they seem to have forgotten about Ansett?
Gary Toomey: Well, as I say I don't want to get embroiled in the politics of the situation just to say that, I mean, Ansett in Australia employs around 15,000 people directly. In addition to that there is probably another 20,000 people involved indirectly or directly in supply to the company, so there is a lot of Australians involved in this company and obviously we would like to think the government was taking their position into account as well.
Reporter: But Ansett is under threat and we could see a return to a monopoly in Australia?
Gary Toomey: Well certainly our objective is to ensure that Ansett is recapitalised and the whole process started out by the Air New Zealand board talking to its shareholders and taking position of finding additional equity, and we have done that. We have gone to Singapore Airlines who have committed to put significant amount of capital in, recognising that Singapore Airlines does not seek to take control of the airline, that that is not a possibility under the bilateral arrangements, and so we felt we had a pretty good case. We also had an investor so we just need to keep working and putting our case forward.
Reporter: Have you talked to the Australian government about the danger to Ansett?
Gary Toomey: Yes.
Reporter: And what do they say?
Gary Toomey: Look, I think I'd rather not go into any detail, but we've certainly reiterated that Ansett is in need of significant investment. We have excellent people and again I've met with over 500, sorry, 600 customers this week, and they've reiterated that our people are one of the main reasons they travel with us, but we need to update our product going forward and hence, the need for equity injections. So this is about going forward, it is not about an immediate situation today, but is it is a concern
Reporter: Would you say that Ansett is in some danger?
Gary Toomey: I just think that all I'd like to say is that we certainly need an equity injection to spend a lot of money on fleet and product. That is what we are promising our customers and our staff and the Singapore proposal therefore was the one that was adopted by the board and we'd like to get on and do that.
Reporter: How much damage is being done in having to wait for an answer like this?
Gary Toomey: I don't think you quantify as any particular damage but obviously weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got well developed plans, we'd like to get on with that. Every day is a day later that we can execute those plans. We're in a position where some of our large capital expenditure plans like single reservation systems and so forth, fleet decisions, we're awaiting this decision so I don't think there is any immediate damage but you know, we would like to get on with it.
Reporter: You need an answer by the end of this month don't you?
Gary Toomey: Yes, we're announcing our results in early September and we think it is very important that we have a position to state to the market on our future equity position.
Reporter: But at this stage there are no guarantees that you will get one?
Gary Toomey: Well we've reiterated those points to both governments and the New Zealand government has indicated that they will be back to us prior to the end of the month with a decision. We're of course involved in that process so I guess we will be in a position to know a little bit later in the month.
Reporter: What does Singapore Airlines make of their investment now?
Gary Toomey: I don't know, you would have to talk to Singapore Airlines but on Wednesday they reiterated their support for their investment in the company as it currently stands and reiterated they would like to make an larger investment along the lines that we have spoken about.
Reporter: But it is much more problematic then they would have anticipated?
Gary Toomey: Again I think you'd need to talk to them about that, confirm what they would say about that but certainly from my perspective it has been more problematic then I would have expected, yes.