MPs: Air NZ prices too high

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Air New Zealand’s fares to fly to and from Nelson are too high and should be looked at, say Nelson-based MPs Nick Smith and Maryan Street.

In April, Nelson Weekly reported on the hundreds of angry locals fed up with paying domestic airfares that were often higher than international fares.

Since then, Air New Zealand has announced a record $262 million profit, prompting Prime Minister John Key to say the airline needed to look at its pricing to regional centres. Nelson’s two MPs agree.

Labour list MP Maryan Street says Air New Zealand rates are “incredibly high” for regional travellers and she thinks Air New Zealand needs to look at its business model. “Even the short trip from Wellington to Nelson is eye-wateringly expensive at times. I think something is wrong with their business model if they can make that much profit and not return some of it via lower prices.”

National’s Nick Smith says having a profitable airline is a good thing for the country but prices, especially those at short notice, need to be addressed and he’s personally spoken with Air New Zealand about the issue.

“I’ve discussed the issue both with the Prime Minister and Air New Zealand. My biggest concern is about the price of Air New Zealand’s air fares for last minute bookings around New Zealand.”

He says he’d much rather have the national carrier making a profit for reinvestment and more fuel-efficient aircraft than be in Australia’s position, with Qantas posting a loss of over $2 billion.

“But the principal concerns I have are around those last minute fares. If people get a Grab-a-seat ticket for $80 or $90 they’re actually pretty happy, but the ones where they’re paying $300 or $400 – as much as it would cost to get them to Australia – are the problem.”