Investigate magazine has described as "ridiculous" Air New Zealand's complaints about its latest cover story.
The airline late today issued a news release branding Investigate's coverage as "sensationalist and riddled with factual errors", and complaining about the anticipated content in tomorrow's publication of the full article.
The magazine has been provided with extensive information by a number of Air New Zealand staff members, and put all key allegations to the airline in advance of publication.
"It is ridiculous for Air New Zealand to whinge about this. They're the ones who chose to take on politically sensitive charter contracts, and they're the ones who have to live with the PR fallout from that," says Investigate editor Ian Wishart.
"Staff told us they saw what they believed were fighter jets escorting the plane into Kuwait airport on one occasion. Perhaps the staff read too much into what they saw and the fighter jets nearby were purely coincidental, but that is merely a gloss on the uncontested substance of the story - that Air New Zealand contracted to fly Australian combat troops destined for Iraq on more than one occasion, and US marines as well.
"Air New Zealand staff have told us they were asked by the airline not to disclose the existence of the flights, which in any ordinary definition would accord with the phrase "secret flights". If they weren't "secret", why is the Government now shrieking about it?"
Wishart says the public can read the full story for themselves when the magazine goes onsale tomorrow morning nationwide, and judge for themselves.