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Flight costs under fire

A former politician wants to see more competition between airlines after finding out it is cheaper to fly to Bali and back than it is to fly between Gisborne and Auckland.

Former National MP Ross Meurant said he was left with questions after buying a midweek return fare from Auckland to Gisborne for $966.

“I make this trip about once a month in my capacity as trustee and managing director of absentee-owned Russian forestry and commercial property assets.

“In fact, at present, one can get a return trip to Bali (Indonesia) for less than it cost me to fly to Gisborne.”

Mr Meurant said inquiries through his political connections informed him that politicians on both sides of the House, “in majority”, were not in favour of opening Gisborne Airport to Qantas/Jetstar.

“As a period of economic doom and gloom descends on Gisborne as a result of the China log export trade collapsing, bringing with it loss of jobs from logging gangs to truck drivers; from the mechanics who service these demons of the highways to retail outlets where unemployed workers will soon have reduced incomes spend, I say it is time to let true travel competition play its role in helping Gisborne survive the next 12 months.”

Earlier this year, Air New Zealand introduced cheaper flights on some of its Gisborne routes. That included reducing some one-way flights between Gisborne and Auckland to $39 on selected days.

However, Gisborne Chamber of Commerce chief executive Terry Sheldrake said there were still issues if travellers needed to fly at short notice.

“It is only a few months back that Air NZ did quite significantly lower flights between Auckland and Gisborne, however, as we all know when one is not in a position to pre-plan flights it can be expensive,” said Mr Sheldrake.

This is just another challenge when living regionally, compared to living and working in a metropolitan area.

“On the flipside, other expenses like purchasing a home in a city like Gisborne is far cheaper.”

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones previously also criticised Air New Zealand’s regional pricing, which he said was still “horrendously large” for the majority of travellers.

A Jetstar spokesman confirmed the airline had “no plans” to expand its regional network.

Gisborne Airport. File picture by Strike Photography

  1. Winston Moreton says:

    Mr Meurant. A large part of the problem has always been the ridiculous charges levied against the airline by the Gisborne airport owner ECT. Don’t believe the Chamber of Commerce – there are always a couple of $30 flights if you book months in advance.