Air New Zealand has been accused of complicity in a years-long armed conflict in war-torn Yemen located at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. The Kiwi airline’s subsidiary Air New Zealand Gas Turbines has been carrying out maintenance work and servicing through an intermediary on behalf of the Saudi Arabian navy, an investigation by 1News revealed.
The Saudi-led coalition, which supports the Yemeni government, has “conducted scores of indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes hitting civilian objects in violation of the laws of war” according to Human Rights Watch. The Saudi navy also stands accused of enforcing a maritime blockade on Yemen and stopping vital medical supplies reaching the impoverished country.
According to the latest estimates, at least 3.6 million Yemeni civilians have been forced to flee their homes because of the ongoing conflict and thousands more have either been killed or seriously injured in the fighting. Houthi rebels have also been accused of obstructing aid deliveries and other heinous war crimes.
The United Nations has described the conflict in Yemen as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis” and says some 24 million people are in need of assistance.
Air New Zealand first refused to discuss its contract on behalf of the Saudi navy but recently confirmed that AZ Gas Turbines had been contracted through a third party to carry out work on two engines and one power turbine module from vessels belonging to the Royal Saudi Navy.
“The Gas Turbines business has not contracted directly with the Royal Saudi Navy and will not be carrying out any further work of this nature,” a spokesperson for the airline explained.
The statement said that Air New Zealand agreeing to carry out the work had been an “oversight”.
Amnesty International hit out at that apparent oversight saying the airline should have carried out “due diligence”. In a statement, a spokesperson for New Zealand’s Green Party said: “New Zealanders will be heartbroken to find our national carrier may have helped commit these mass crimes for financial gain.”
“We welcome Air New Zealand’s move to cease all support for the Saudi military after the matter came to light, and to apply this lesson to all future third party contracts,” the statement continued.
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Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.