Duncan Garner: Nothing stopping Air New Zealand putting up prices to the regions

Opinion 26/09/2019

What incredibly poor timing from Jetstar to pull out of Napier, New Plymouth, Nelson and Palmerston North.

From November 30, 130 return flights every week will be gone.

Right on Christmas, and for the 20,000 Kiwis booked for the December services and beyond.

I think this is incredibly sad.

Of course, Jetstar was never going to "win" against Air New Zealand, but it was most definitely "competition". 

Jetstar kept Air New Zealand honest after a period where our national carrier ran completely amok in the regions, screwing New Zealanders in Whāngārei, Taupō, Whanganui, Palmy North, Nelson, you name the small town.

I ran a campaign a few years ago - I'm a bit proud of it actually - to embarrass Air NZ into action.

The first they did was ring my boss and ask me to call off my dogs, to my boss's credit he only told me about the phone call two years later. 

Now, I have nothing against profit.

Air New Zealand is a great airline, world-class. But, the airline tried to tell me it wasn't price gouging.

The following week it turned a half-billion-dollar profit. 

It said flying to the regions was heinously expensive, as it charged $800 return from Palmy to Auckland.

Then came Jetstar into the regions. I think Jetstar should receive some credit for Air NZ's prices ultimately reducing.

Yes, the world economy and inbound tourism softened so Air NZ had to do something, but having Jetstar on those routes forced Air NZ to take notice.

Now nothing will stop Air NZ putting up those prices.

And what's the point of the regional development minister Shane Jones? A billion-dollar annual fund for the regions and regional air services reduce? It's all hot air, and it's not as if he's Air NZ's favourite Minister - come on Matua Shane you've saved railway lines to nowhere, why can't you help genuine air services to somewhere? 

As for Air New Zealand, please prove us all wrong. You're more than just a business, you're the lifeline to the regions. You don't need to strangle them to survive. This is your conscience speaking.

Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show.