Winston Peters says the Government should buy back full ownership of Air New Zealand if it means the regions will be serviced better.
The NZ First leader was asked about the issue while on the campaign trail in Southland today.
“We’re saying to Air New Zealand that we’re prepared to back you as a Government but you’ve got to understand that you have to supply the regional airline capacity right around this country. You just cannot pick and choose what you’re going to do.
“If we’re going to underwrite you for a second time we want you to provide a fair and reasonable service to every province in this country."
Peters said the Government should take a “100 per cent” stake in the airline “if it’s necessary”.
“Right now the shares will be worth confetti, without the taxpayers support, so why are we propping it up with the taxpayers' money without the Invercargills, Kerikeris and Gisbornes of this world getting a fair go themselves?”
Air New Zealand was privatised in 1989, with the Government buying back a majority share of the airline in 2001.
NZ First - particularly Shane Jones - has taken aim at the airline in recent years over its declining services to the regions.
In March, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced a $900 million rescue package for Air New Zealand due to the Covid-19 pandemic.