Regional Development Minister Shane Jones' criticism of the Air NZ chairman was "unwarranted", with personal attacks not being the New Zealand "way", says Sir John Key.
On TVNZ1's Q+A, the Air NZ board member was asked if Mr Jones' criticism against the airline was warranted.
Mr Jones' previously called for chair Tony Carter to step down and said he was "thoroughly unimpressed" with their treatment of regional services.
When asked if the criticism created uncertainty, Sir John said the commercial world was "not immune from criticism from politicians", however "it needs to be justified and it needs to be warranted".
"He had a go at our Chairman Tony Carter and I thought that was very unwarranted," Sir John said.
"I don't think in New Zealand it's our way that we really have personal attacks so that is something I would tone down if I was him.
"We have been increasing capacity and reducing costs for New Zealanders in terms of flying. We have cancelled some of the routes we have had."
Dann asked if resentment around corporate New Zealand could result in a push back, Sir John said corporate New Zealand was "very aware of its responsibilities".
"For the most part [New Zealand] does a good job of trying to make sure our workers are safe, making sure those opportunities are there.
Last week, Dann asked Mr Jones if his comments were having a negative impact on business confidence, "unsettling the business community by wading in and publicly attacking chief executives.
"They earn these huge, stratospheric salaries. They have their own ideas as to how the economy should be run," Mr Jones told Q+A.
"If they put their head up and participate in a political debate, they should expect to receive political fire."
"They live a highly privileged lifestyle, so don't come the cry baby with me, they want to impose their views on the rest of us."