A short private ceremony, led by Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe, was held at an Air New Zealand hangar after flight NZ38 landed in Auckland at 11am today (NZ time).

New Zealand music icon Dave Dobbyn performed his song Welcome Home as the coffins of the four New Zealanders, draped in the New Zealand flag and floral bouquets, were carried from the Boeing 747-400.

Mr Fyfe paid tribute to the four men, Captain Brian Horrell, Noel Marsh, Michael Gyles and Jeremy Cook, and missing colleague Murray White. He passed on condolences from Prime Minister John Key and the Civil Aviation Authority before members of the Air New Zealand kapa haka group paid a special tribute on behalf of the airline.

Families then carried their loved ones to hearses for their final journeys to their resting places.

Mr Fyfe said the men who returned today were respected aviation experts at the top of their game, who gave their lives ensuring the safety of the travelling public.

"We mourn their loss and our hearts go out to the family of Murray White, who remains missing. I know all New Zealanders will join us in expressing their deepest sympathies to those who have lost fathers, sons, husbands, brothers, friends and colleagues as they make their final journey today."


ENDS

Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs, phone 09 336 2761

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.