Air NZ’s response to Christchurch tragedy: regional flights were grounded while its fares soared …

Move over Shane Jones – Grant Robertson might be keen to join you in assailing Air NZ for its appalling exercise in yield management at the weekend in jacking up round fares to Christchurch to $747 and $787.

It took a crisp call from Finance Minister Robertson, who holds Air NZ’s shares for the Crown, to boot common sense into the Auckland warriors who run the national carrier.

Fares were capped and compassionate fares made available.

Air NZ furthermore cancelled 17 regional services from Christchurch, saying, it was not possible to screen customers and their baggage.

But wait a minute.  Those flights (on ATRs and Q300s) aren’t screened anyway.

So, there must have been another reason.

Perhaps the police wanted to prevent possible accomplices stealing away on non-screened flights.

The airline, not surprisingly, made no mention of political pressure being applied in media releases prompted by  events in Christchurch.

And it coyly announced the cap on one-way domestic fares for flights directly to and from Christchurch under a bland headline which made no mention of the cap.

15 March 2019

Air New Zealand cancels regional turboprop services out of Christchurch

Air New Zealand has cancelled the remainder of regional turboprop services scheduled to depart from Christchurch this evening following the shooting tragedy in the city.

15 March 2019

Air New Zealand offering flexibility following Christchurch incident

Air New Zealand is offering flexibility to its customers booked to travel to or from Christchurch today following the firearms incident in the city.

16 March 2019

Update on Air New Zealand Christchurch regional services

Regional services from Christchurch have resumed this morning and these flights will be subject to passenger and baggage screening following yesterday’s shooting tragedy in the city for at least the next 48 hours.

17 March 2019

Air New Zealand update on Christchurch services

Air New Zealand has capped one-way domestic fares for flights directly to and from Christchurch at $139 to assist customers needing to travel there to support those affected by the shooting tragedy.

This statement set out information about compassionate fares, ticket flexibility and “other support”.

Beyond the measures Air New Zealand has introduced for customers affected by the shooting tragedy in Christchurch, it has also been working closely with the Prime Minister’s office to support the transport of key people to Christchurch including emergency services personnel.

The airline has transported more than 70 Police officers from around New Zealand to Christchurch and various emergency support personnel, including eight specialist doctors from Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington and Tauranga.

The airline has also been working with the wider Muslim community to facilitate travel to Christchurch to assist with arrangements. 

A fifth statement announced a long serving Air New Zealand engineer was among those killed in the shooting tragedy in Christchurch.

Stuff threw a different light on the price cap:

Air New Zealand has capped its fares after being criticised for the cost of a flight to Christchurch.

Travellers trying to book flights to travel to the city in the wake of the mosque attacks encountered fares that are much more expensive than usual.

One traveller tweeted the airline on Saturday, calling a price of $787 for a return fare “ridiculous” when people were trying to get there for funerals.

Air New Zealand posted on Twitter that prices had gone up because, although it was putting on additional capacity, there was little availability.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said he had made his views clear to the airline.

And in its report on the backdown, the NZ Herald reported: 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson also rebuked the airline.

Robertson had contacted Air NZ to “make his views clear” about this being a time when the airline should offer “compassionate fares”.

Jones’ initial thrust at Air NZ was directed at the high cost of regional air travel. The airline has sort-of relented – but this weekend’s performance indicates there is plenty left to learn.

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