Locals are concerned with a sharp rise in prices from Air New Zealand in the months since Jetstar pulled out of the region on November 30.
Information obtained from Nelson Airport under the Official Information Act reveals increased airfare prices from Nelson since the departure of Jetstar.
The airport monitors airfares every day for the price of a booking the next day, as well as bookings 30 days prior to travel, both inbound and outbound.
Analysis shows that in December 2019, a return fare to Auckland from Nelson, booked a day in advance, has gone up by $131.
The same fare booked 30 days in advance has risen by $99.
Nelson MP Nick Smith says that he was “appalled” by the hike in airfares.
“I have been inundated with complaints from Nelsonians feeling ripped off,” he says.
Airfares in and out of Nelson to Wellington and Auckland were hiked up an average 18 per cent in December 2019, compared to December 2018, when Jetstar was still operating out of the region.
Another concern for locals is reduced capacity.
Analysis shows that new flights added by Air New Zealand don’t cover the gap left by Jetstar’s departure.
The four Jetstar flights per day from Auckland have been offset by only one new flight per day from Air New Zealand.
The three Jetstar flights per day from Wellington have been offset by only one new flight per day from Wellington.
Commuter Kate Neame says that she used to be able to get $39 fares to Wellington up to a couple of weeks out.
“I’ve just had to book for May (months away) at $376 return.”
Manda Wicks says she doesn’t foresee being able to travel as often this year.
“I’m hopeful that Originair might change that when their service starts.”
Origin announced two weeks ago that they would start flights to Wellington come February 14.
Air New Zealand’s external communications manager Anna Cross said that in December, the carrier offered more than 22,000 seats on Nelson routes for under $100 compared to less than 17,000 at the same time last year.
She said that Jetstar’s withdrawal, coming as it did heading into peak season, “really challenged our teams to identify available aircraft and slots”.
Anna said its December flights filled up faster than usual and the cheapest seats tended to sell out first.
“We always encourage our customers to book early to take advantage of best available fares, especially heading into the busy festive season.”