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Mayor spells out Air NZ concerns

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz has been in talks with Air New Zealand following concerns over the impact of steep airfares on tourism.

The issue was raised at a Trust Tairawhiti board meeting in November last year, with trustee John Clarke worried the fares would put a squeeze on visitor numbers.

“We do get knocked around,” Mr Clarke said at the time.

Mayor Stoltz said she met with Air NZ's head of tourism and regional affairs, Reuben Levermore, at the end of November and raised concerns about the expense of flights between Gisborne and Wellington.

As a regular traveller on the Gisborne-Wellington route, Mayor Stoltz said the limited number of direct flights to the capital could be frustrating, and that was another issue she raised with Mr Levermore.

Most days there are four direct flights between Gisborne and Wellington — two each way — as well as several flights that go via Auckland.

A direct flight between Gisborne and Wellington can cost close to $400 (one way, without a bag).

Mayor Stoltz said the cost could be especially problematic for those who did not have the luxury to book well in advance for a tangi or urgent unplanned meeting.

Air NZ told her the best way to secure a good fare was to book as early as possible, but compassionate fares were available for travel due to a family medical emergency or death.

Mayor Stoltz said she would be reiterating the concerns at an Air NZ mayoral forum next month.

“We have always had a good relationship with Air NZ and I look forward to constructive talks and negotiations with them.”

Air NZ's new chief executive, Greg Foran, started on February 3 and this week sent an email to Airpoints Gold and Elite members asking for feedback on the airline's customer service.

Mayor Stoltz said the Gisborne-Auckland route had grown.

By the middle of the year, when the new Gisborne Airport terminal will be completed, a return flight on Sunday afternoon will be added to the Gisborne-Auckland schedule.

Up to 12 direct flights each day between Gisborne and Auckland are scheduled — six each way.

  1. winston moreton says:

    Our Mayor says “We have always had a good relationship with Air NZ…” Given her newness in office it seems she is unaware that Air NZ simply pass on the ridiculous landing charges (highest in NZ) imposed by her council via Trust Tairaawhiti via Eastland Group. We are lucky they bother with us.
    If Mr Foran wants my feedback, I’ll give it to him. I flew Air NZ today and once again, there is the Trust chairperson sitting up front in the pound seats.

  2. D. Stratton says:

    I understand that in today’s world the words fair and commonsense have all but been outlawed, but would it not work for Air NZ to divide the amount they want to make per flight by the number of seats on a plane – that way everybody pays the same and Air NZ gets what they want. Silly me, that would be too easy wouldn’t it.

    1. Lizz Crawford says:

      I think that’s the point Rehette Stoltz is making . . . pricing that way makes it expensive for us.

      1. winston moreton says:

        Rehette is of course paying top dollar, except she is using council dollars and it looks bad against her travel account expenses which are public. We the great unwashed can fly for nearly zilch if we book weeks ahead. Means there are never empty seats.

  3. Richard says:

    Market forces and commercial reality will always drive the retail price of any commodity. The Mayor should know that and realise, that as far as Gisborne is concerned pleasant platitudes from Air NZ will not morph into everyday fares that ordinary folk can manage. At the moment you need the adroitness of a Grand Master chess player to extract a reasonable fare from that airline.

    Unless there is real competition seven days a week on the route to Wellington nothing will change for the traveling public. Air NZ’s Levermore and Foran will continue to have a deaf ear and blind eye to Gisborne’s desire for affordable air fares and improved connectivity.

    The millions spent on the new airport terminal would have been better invested for the benefit of whole community in a new railway station and the return of passenger rail services Gisborne to Wellington. Only then, in a competitive environment will AirNZ’s monopoly be seriously challenged and the Mayor Stoltz’s negotiating leverage empowered.