07 May 2010

Air Fares to the Palmerston North Defended

6 May 2010 - Rough ride for Air NZ on pricing

Source : www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/3658784/Rough-ride-for-Air-NZ-on-pricing

After a barrage of criticism about fare prices from Palmerston North, Air New Zealand has fronted up in the province. A bevy of company general managers mingled with about 75 members of the Manawatu Chamber of Commerce last night as part of a tour of 17 regions in New Zealand to discuss the airline's service. Air New Zealand has been criticised for fares costing up to twice as much from the city to Auckland and Christchurch, compared with leaving from Wellington. In response, the airline placed an advertisement in the Manawatu Standard defending its frequency of service and availability of cheap fares. Last night, Grant Kerr, general manager of Air New Zealand subsidiary Air Nelson, said pricing was raised "many times", while scheduling of services was praised. "People like to understand what drives a particular price for a particular sector." The airline had taken concerns about fare prices on board, although the criticism had come as a surprise, he said. That sentiment was echoed by Carrie Hurihanganui general manager of another Air New Zealand subsidiary, Eagle Air. She said she had been getting positive and "constructive" feedback from chamber members. "It's been a good opportunity to listen to what they have to say." She said about 35 per cent of fares from Palmerston North were cheap "smart savers". When asked about the recent negative coverage of Air New Zealand fare prices, Ms Hurihanganui said it would have been nice if those who had complained had picked up the phone to approach the airline. Yesterday afternoon, there was a meeting between the airline, Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway and representatives from Destination Manawatu and Vision Manawatu. Mr Lees-Galloway said the airline was told about the frustration facing business people trying to travel around New Zealand. Not impressed with what he had heard from the airline was Palmerston North property developer Paul Barris, who said a speech made by Mr Kerr was just a cover. Deputy mayor John Hornblow said he was still concerned about fare prices, although he now accepted there were enough flights to and from the airport.

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