Details of Air New Zealand's corporate intelligence activities, including screen scraping the website of its rival Jetstar, have emerged in the Employment Court in Auckland.
Air NZ is seeking to enforce a six-month non-competition clause in the employment contact of Grant Kerr, the former general manager of its subsidiary Air Nelson.
Kerr was due to begin his new role as the head of New Zealand operations for Air NZ rival Jetstar on Monday.
Central to the airline's case is its belief that Kerr possesses confidential information that would be valuable to Jetstar.
Air NZ chief operations office Bruce Parton yesterday described the relationship between the airlines as "aggressively competitive".
Lawyer Peter Chemis, acting for Kerr, questioned Parton over how much information was truly confidential in the airline industry given the level of intelligence gathered by companies on their competitors.
Parton said Air NZ spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" gathering information on Jetstar.
Asked if this bill just covered staff costs, Parton said: "No, it's more the technology."
Questioned on how information was gathered, Parton said "tools and strategies we find that are legal. Like most airlines we purchase load factor information from various sources".
Asked whether this intelligence gathering included scraping the website of Jetstar Parton said. "Yes. Well, actually, a form of screen-scraping."
Parton said the scraping was used to determine how many tickets Jetstar were selling and for what price.
"We try best to determine how many fares are being sold and at what level they're selling out," he said
Parton said these estimates assisted in modelling earnings, cashflow and costs for its rival and were used in Air NZ decision-making.
Further discussion of documents relating to Air NZ's intelligence gathering continued in closed court, after Judge Anthony Ford ruled the material was confidential.
The hearing, into its second day, continues and is due to conclude tomorrow.
- Fairfax NZ News