The missing Air New Zealand staff were on board the aircraft as observers during a pre-acceptance flight before its return to Air New Zealand. They are:

Captain Brian Horrell, who is aged 52 years and lives in Auckland.

Murray White, who is an engineer aged 37 years and lives in Auckland.

Michael Gyles, who is an engineer aged 49 years and lives in Christchurch.

The name of the fourth Air New Zealand observer will be released later today once all next of kin have been notified.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe says he has now spoken to the partners of each of the missing men.

"This is an unbelievably difficult time for the families of those who are missing. I conveyed to them my deepest sympathies and those of all Air New Zealanders as we await further information on their loved ones. I was also able to re-assure them that Air New Zealand is receiving the full support of the New Zealand Government and the Search and Rescue authorities in France and we are confident that everything is being done to locate those still missing."

Ends

NOTE: The content of all Air New Zealand media releases are accurate at the time of issue, as stated at the top of each release. For updates on any changes, please contact Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.

For more information about Air New Zealand visit www.airnewzealand.com and for more information about Star Alliance visit www.staralliance.com.