Dec 2009

Former Kiwi Air CEO Still Putting Out Fires

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Former CEO of Kiwi Air has admitted in a new book he was the whistleblower in a case which saw the closure of an Australian freight company he was employed by.


Former CEO of collapsed airline Kiwi Air Ewan Wilson admits he was the whistleblower in the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s closure of a freight company he worked for.

In his new book Help, My Plane’s On Fire!, Wilson catalogues a litany of aircraft failures at Pacific Air Freighters where he worked as a trainee pilot in the Australian Outback following Kiwi Air’s demise.

Wilson says a fire on board, continued brake failures and engine problems, cargo overloads and a severely loose propeller could have caused an aviation disaster – and he felt morally compelled to report the company.

Awarded a New Zealand Special Service Medal for his relief work in Sri Lanka, Wilson discusses his rise from a public and catastrophic company failure to successful tour-guide operator and philanthropist in his new book.

“I wrote this book to inspire others who have been in my situation. Yes failure is hard to take but it’s how you respond to it that makes all the difference to the life you lead from then on.”

Wilson’s reinvention has included a stint as a Hamilton city councillor, Waikato District Health Board member and work as a guest lecturer at Otago and Waikato Universities.

But it’s his charity work in Sri Lanka following the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 that he credits as being one of his greatest achievements.

Wilson says even now he can recall the stench of decomposing bodies as he and his team of Waikato tradespeople worked in a devastated Seenigama. The dedicated team rebuilt 47 houses, created another 20 new dwellings along with a small factory and medical centre during their time there.

Never far from controversy, in Help, My Plane’s On Fire! Wilson takes a swipe at a World Vision worker’s criticism that the $200,000 he raised for the people of Seenigama would be better distributed by the charity.


“I realised then that charity work was a business for some,” he says.

Wilson says he wanted to redeem himself in the public eye after the multi-million dollar collapse of Kiwi International Airlines. To some extent this was achieved with his bestselling book “Dogfight” which sold 13,000 copies and outlined the background behind the airline’s failure.

“I wanted people to understand that Kiwi Air was really about making a dream of low cost international travel available to the people of the Waikato. I still believe today that Hamilton has the population and infrastructure to support its own international airport.”

Wilson’s new book Help, My Plane’s On Fire! also includes details of the subsequent trial that followed Wilson’s public fall from grace.

For more information see www.ewanwilson.com

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Fleur Revell
Fleur Revell is one of the country’s most eminent PR consultants and public relations practitioners with more than 20 years industry experience behind her. Fleur is also a three times Qantas Media Awards winner and Feature Writer of the Year; and has an exceptional working knowledge of the New Zealand media landscape and its accelerating evolution in the digital age.
Former Kiwi Air CEO Still Putting Out Fires
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