French authorities have now advised Air New Zealand that it should not expect there to be any survivors after its Airbus A320 that was on lease to XL Airways of Germany was lost in the Mediterranean yesterday.
Group General Manager International Airline Ed Sims says rescue authorities have told the airline it appears the aircraft broke up on impact and there was no realistic chance of survivors.
"This is devastating news for the families and all Air New Zealanders as we had all been clinging on to hope. Sadly, rescue authorities have told us that all evidence on site indicates that given the nature of the impact there is no chance of survivors. Debris is spread over a large area and it appears the aircraft is not in large pieces as originally indicated by those who saw the impact," Mr Sims says.
"Air New Zealand support teams are currently with the families of each of our staff who were on board the aircraft. We have reaffirmed the opportunity for any family and friends to travel to Perpignan and at this stage four members of one of our staff on board will be travelling there this evening."
Mr Sims says Air New Zealand would like to thank the French search and rescue authorities for the extraordinary efforts they have made in difficult conditions.
"More than 150 searchers, five boats and aircraft have been involved in the rescue effort. No effort or expense has been spared. The French authorities have been outstanding in their support and we have nothing but admiration for their efforts."
Mr Sims says the airline extends its sympathies to the family of the Civil Aviation Authority's Jeremy Cook, who was an observer on the pre-acceptance flight, and the two German pilots of the aircraft.
Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs.
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