Airfares forcing move
Would you regularly use a flight service to Auckland from Timaru?
A Timaru man says the cost of local airfares has forced him to leave the city for his work.
Simon Nicol, who works for an IT firm, commented on the Herald's website that he was forced to relocate to Christchurch, as the cost of airfares to Wellington was simply becoming too expensive.
"I fly from Timaru to Wellington every second week, and also to Auckland about four times per year, and have done this for well over two years," he said.
"I approached Air New Zealand for a discount based on regular travel and was told no."
His firm has asked him to relocate to Christchurch as the costs were not justifiable. "I have paid more than $630 for a return ticket [from Timaru to Wellington]."
Mr Nicol's comments came after Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith expressed concerns about the cost of regional airfares, especially compared with to those in the main centres.
Mr Brownlee said the Government was considering the economic development implications of high regional airfares. Several Timaru Herald readers have also complained.
Air New Zealand spokeswoman Marie Hosking said the cost per seat of the Beech aircraft that operate between Timaru and Wellington was five times higher than an A320 jet used on major domestic routes.
Herald reader Andrew Swallow asked whether the Timaru airport could operate a service involving the larger Q300 aircraft to Auckland. The Q300 is occasionally used when the Beechcraft is not available.
However, Ms Hosking said the distance between Timaru and Auckland was longer than any Q300 sector Air NZ currently operated.
"We would have to reduce weight by flying empty seats, which of course significantly reduces the potential economic viability of such a route," she said.
"Only a handful of passengers per day travel between Timaru and Auckland [via Wellington]. Although a non-stop service might stimulate demand to some extent, it would still be well short of the required number of customers for the service to be financially viable."
Mr Swallow said it was no wonder only a handful of people flew Timaru to Auckland via Wellington.
"I don't think Air New Zealand has a clue how many people from Timaru's catchment area, which should include North Otago too [who want to fly direct to Auckland] ... Air NZ would rather milk the cash cow that is the Timaru-Wellington route than . . . offer the region a better service."
- © Fairfax NZ News