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.