The remains of four of the five New Zealanders lost in the A320 accident in France will arrive in Auckland accompanied by some family members and Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe later this morning.
The group will arrive in Auckland on NZ38 at around 11am today (NZ time).
When all other passengers have disembarked the Boeing 747-400, the aircraft with the families and remains of the lost men will be towed to an Air New Zealand hangar to be welcomed home by family, friends and several hundred colleagues in a private ceremony around midday.
Once the Boeing 747-400 is in the hangar, the family members who stayed in New Zealand will board the aircraft to be reunited with those who travelled to Perpignan. All the families will then disembark the aircraft to take their seats for the ceremony as New Zealand music icon Dave Dobbyn performs his song Welcome Home.
Mr Fyfe will then pay tribute to the four men and missing colleague Murray White and pass on condolences from Prime Minister John Key and the Civil Aviation Authority before members of the Air New Zealand kapa haka group pay a special tribute on behalf of the airline. Families will then carry their loved ones to hearses for their journeys to their last resting place.
Mr Fyfe says the arrival will be an extremely emotional time for the families and friends of the lost men and Air New Zealanders around the world.
“Arriving home in New Zealand will mark the end of another chapter as we all come to terms with the tragedy that occurred in France when we lost our men and A320 operated by XL Airways of Germany,” Mr Fyfe says.
Dave Dobbyn commented, “On such a solemn occasion it is an honour and a privilege for me to sing Welcome Home with the bereaved families and friends of these loved ones returning. Our hearts go out to them and everyone at Air New Zealand also for what is indeed a sad time,” Mr Dobbyn says.
Air New Zealand asks that the media respect the families, friends and colleagues right to privacy on this occasion.
Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph 09 336 2761
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