The future of loss-making New Zealand domestic carrier Ansett New Zealand may be one of the last issues for resolution as Air New Zealand positions itself to take up News Corporation's 50% stake in Ansett Australia for an estimated A$50 million ($36 million).

Air New Zealand has reportedly told the country's anti-monopoly Commerce Commission that it wants to continue operating its own domestic services as well as owning Ansett New Zealand as an independently controlled legal entity in competition. It would create a "Chinese wall structure" between the two to satisfy the Government's competition requirements.

The New Zealand Government, however, may block the move and ease a possible Qantas acquisition of Ansett New Zealand. This would secure terminal space for the Australian carrier, and a domestic network to feed its trans-Tasman and onward routes.

In late April the Australian and New Zealand transport ministers met for the first time since the Australian Government slammed the door on Air New Zealand's plans to set up its own Australian domestic operation.

Also unresolved, is the size of Air New Zealand's Stake in Ansett's international arm, and its reported wish for veto rights over top Ansett management appointments.

An aircraft-evaluation team from Air New Zealand and its regional subsidiaries Mount Cook Airline and Air Nelson is visiting European aircraft manufacturers. Their priority is to evaluate aircraft in the 50- to 70-seat range, primarily to replace Mount Cook's Hawker Siddeley 748s.

Source: Flight International