Anjela Sharma was banned by Air New Zealand for a year. Photo: Supplied.

Nelson lawyer takes legal action after flying ban

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A Nelson lawyer has taken legal action against Air New Zealand after it banned her from travelling on the airline for a year, after a dispute about entry into the Koru Lounge spiralled.

Anjela Sharma is seeking an interim injunction from the High Court at Auckland to overturn a one-year ban imposed by Air New Zealand, and is also seeking damages and costs.

In a Statement of Claim filed with the court, Mrs Sharma said she and her family were travelling to India from Nelson in December 2018, when an Air New Zealand staff member asked for proof they were allowed to be in the Koru Lounge.

She said they showed their business class tickets and were allowed to stay.

But later in the month, Ms Sharma, who unsuccessfully ran for Nelson City Council in the last elections, claimed Air New Zealand wrote to her and alleged she and her family had been refused entry, went into the Koru Lounge without permission, and the family
was loud and aggressive.

She said the airline issued a warning that she’d be banned if she didn’t follow the rules.

Mrs Sharma said she wrote to then-chief executive Christopher Luxon, and later had replies from an Air New Zealand lawyer.

In the interim Mrs Sharma had flown on Air New Zealand flights domestically and internationally with no issues.

In July, about eight months after the initial issue, Mrs Sharma said she received an email from the airline’s lawyer alleging an email from her was “insulting, aggressive and intimidating”.

The next day, she said she received a letter advising that she had been banned from Air New Zealand services for one year.

Around that date she said all of the pre-booked flights she had made and paid for already were cancelled unilaterally by the company.

“The defendant’s actions have and will continue to cause significant financial and emotional harm to the plaintiff including: The loss of flexibility to travel to and with her family and… clients… financial harm to her business in an amount to be quantified prior to hearing… considerable stress, distress and humiliation,” the Statement of Claim said.

Through lawyer Sue Grey and under the Fair Trading Act, Mrs Sharma has applied for an interim injunction from the court to direct the airline to cancel the ban, as well as pay damages, interest and costs.

Air New Zealand said it would not be commenting.