Prominent lawyer, Auckland business leader lambast 'entitled' Paul Henry over Air New Zealand comments

  • 11/05/2022

Paul Henry's scathing critique of Air New Zealand calling for its chief executive and chair to be replaced shows a sense of entitlement and that he doesn't know what it takes to run an airline, a prominent lawyer and business leader have said.

It comes after broadcaster Henry wrote a column published in the NZ Herald on Tuesday, where he accused Air New Zealand of dropping the ball as people begin to travel again. 

He was interviewed about the article by AM host Melissa Chan-Green on Wednesday morning where he doubled down - claiming he'd been paying high prices for "minimal service" for the past two years. 

Michael Barnett, the Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive, told AM Henry's comments were wrong.

"I look at Air New Zealand - they're an airline sitting there waiting for a Government to say that they can fly, waiting for a Government to say that people can come back into the country," Barnett said on Wednesday morning.

"They converted planes into freight so that they could look after our exporters and keep our export sector going, and people employed.

"We've got a chief executive who you can see operating as an attendant domestically learning what his customers want and I know recently has flown Singapore Airlines to see what they do better than Air New Zealand. He's making a difference - give him a chance."

Prominent lawyer Marie Dyhrberg, appearing on AM's panel alongside Barnett, agreed.

"I just heard… the rants of an entitled, premium person who's just not feeling the love he thinks he should be getting because he sits up the front," she said.

"His comments… show his utter inadequacy to understand what would be involved. Running an airline is incredibly complex."

Also in defence of Air New Zealand, its former chief executive and current National Party leader Christopher Luxon said the company had the best people working for it. 

"I think the chair and CEO have done a pretty good job in very formidable and challenging times," he told AM. "I speak to Air New Zealanders each and every day and I know all the effort that's going in behind the scenes from all the staff - from the CEO down." 

Air New Zealand has not yet responded to Henry's comments.