Reports of a Qantas plan to crush Air New Zealand (ANZ) on its home turf are going down badly in New Zealand.

Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon told company managers that he intended to boost flights from Australia to New Zealand, and to compete "very aggressively" in order to put ANZ "out of business" within New Zealand.

Dixon also said that Qantas would pursue the strategy despite the fact that the New Zealand government ultimately wanted the Australian flag carrier to purchase ANZ.

Although Dixon has subsequently claimed that he was misinterpreted, audience members say that the reports were a fair representation of his speech.

New Zealand's finance minister Michael Cullen, who oversaw ANZ's re-nationalisation last year, denies that the government wants Qantas to acquire ANZ.Ê"If Qantas' strategic intentions are as have been indicated, then it wouldbe very well down the list of anypreferred partners. We're not interested in any airline that is about to try and destroy ANZ," he says. This is a view which is echoed by Jim Anderton, New Zealand's deputy prime minister.

John Palmer, ANZ's chairman, says: "Threats from Qantas are nothing new for us." The only surprise this time is that Qantas seems to be planning simultaneous battles, both with Ansett and ANZ, he adds.

Source: Airline Business