Editorial: Go Gerry go, go, go
Unless you manage to grab one of the half dozen $59 seats available online every two or three weeks, flying out of Timaru is a fright to your wallet.
A mid-range fare to Wellington, the only place you can fly to, is around $150. And $150 to come home again.
If you've left it till the last minute and there's only one seat left, it could cost as much as $450. One way. Ouch.
A pretty standard fare out of Christchurch is $59 one way.
Why the wide variation? According to Gerry Brownlee, wearing his Transport Minister hat rather than government-shareholder-in-Air-New-Zealand one, it's because there is no competition in Timaru. Or other regional airports for that matter.
We're right behind you.
If there was competition into Timaru we wouldn't feel the need to drive to Christchurch Airport so often, which is really annoying because it's not so convenient timewise and we've got to pay for petrol ($70) and car parking ($50) and by then, frankly, we may as well fly out of Timaru, but then we might get fog-bound or the plane might need maintenance and, gasp, really, when we were looking online the price gap was huge and we didn't think of those other things.
But we're still right behind you.
Even if the reason there's no competition is because there are probably not enough of us to sustain competition. If there was, there would be. Competition I mean.
And, Gerry, listen to this excuse from Air New Zealand.
It reckons the Beech aircraft it flies into Timaru costs five times as much per seat to run as the larger planes on the main domestic routes. Which, if that's right, means our threefold prices aren't that out-of-whack.
Oh, and it also reckons the average regional airfare is cheaper than four years ago.
Don't you hate that, when the facts get in the way of a good gripe. No, wait, hang on, that'll have something to do with the fuel prices won't it?
Yes Gerry, I know, it sounds like we're shooting ourselves in the foot here a bit, but we still want you to push our case.
To be honest, what we really want is convenience ... and reliability. If we're paying extra we expect something for it, and to be reimbursed if we're bused to Christchurch because of some mechanical hiccup with the plane.
Here's one last thought though, Gerry. If we're paying extra for flights because of where we live, how come our power isn't a whole lot cheaper?
- © Fairfax NZ News