Dunedin service a flying shame

A flight lands at Dunedin Airport. Photo by ODT.
A flight lands at Dunedin Airport. Photo by ODT.
Dunedin businesses are suffering from what they say is a poor domestic air service that is not helping economic development.

And prices on some Dunedin routes appear much higher than similar flights elsewhere in New Zealand.

''It gives people the impression that Dunedin is quite a difficult place to get to, to do business,'' Otago Southland Employers' Association chief executive John Scandrett said.

''That's not something we want to encourage.

''People need to be able to get here to do business, and get home on time.''

However, work was going on behind the scenes, Mr Scandrett said, and there was a possibility of changes coming up.

Although there was no confirmation yesterday, the Otago Daily Times understands schedule changes may be announced soon.

The concerns follow news last week Virgin's direct flights between Dunedin and Sydney and Melbourne this summer had been cut.

That means services to other centres, such as Christchurch, are now essential for those wanting to link by plane to overseas flights.

Anyone wanting to book a flight yesterday to Christchurch on Air New Zealand for today would have been out of luck; the airline's website said the flights, which would have cost $316 one-way, were booked out.

The price drops to $246 for next Friday, then $117 by next Tuesday.

A Wellington to Christchurch fare on Air New Zealand booked yesterday for today would cost $174, and just $59 next Tuesday.

Jetstar fares from Dunedin to Auckland range from $369 tomorrow to $85 if booked a week ahead, while Air New Zealand would cost $499 to $169 a week out.

Air New Zealand dropped direct flights from three to two a day earlier this year, with the last direct flight back to Dunedin leaving during the afternoon.

Bedpost Dunedin owner Alan Preston said the loss of direct evening flights from Auckland had meant either leaving meetings early or staying overnight.

He had been attending regular meetings in the city for the past 19 years, and the changes had made that harder.

''It just means there's less time to do the things you're trying to do,'' Mr Preston said.

''If you're having a meeting, you need to start thinking about leaving early.''

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said he was hearing from business people the Auckland changes had made travel there ''certainly less convenient''.

The loss of the international flights was ''in a way a bigger issue'', he said.

There was a cost to businesses of the delays, caused by waiting in airports for connecting flights.

Mr Scandrett said the business community had a growing concern about Air New Zealand's flight schedule, particularly on the Dunedin to Auckland service.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

Lucky Jetstar

I am sure Jetstar are benefiting significantly from Air New Zealand's removal of the late direct flight to Auckland. I was a loyal supporter of the national airline but unfortunately for me always flew Dunedin to Auckland on the late direct flight. I have booked 4 flights with Jetstar since as the flight time is better. I would not consider myself a frequent flyer either! 

Sharpen up Air New Zealand and Virgin, your service from Dunedin is a disgrace.

Dunedin Aiport

Not only are fares to and from Dunedin from other airports exhorbidently high, the distance from the city makes the cab or shuttle fair exqually outrageous. Let's not forget that when you get to the area surrounding the Exchange and the ports, that the lack of port activity has greatly depressed that area so business person or tourist can be forgiven for thinking Dunedin does not matter.

Doing it ourselves

Michaelk: the problem isn't that we can't land jumbos, it's that we can't fill the smaller planes (these are 737s flying to Sydney and Melbourne, and a 737 that was taken off the late afternoon flight to Auckland). Spending money to make the airport runway longer will not help to fill smaller planes that can already fly out.

Really the big problem is that fewer of us are traveling, our local economy has tanked and the National government doesn't care a bit about Dunedin - we're just a place they can screw a bit more to lay off some more people so they can spend more in Auckland where they see a better chance of scoring votes.

Government isn't going to fix Dunedin for us, and our city Council is paralysed by its debt load - it has no money to spend on economic development. The Chamber of Commerce seems unwilling to raise money from its members to do the same. We really only have two choices: do it ourselves, or leave.

I for one am not leaving, I suggest everyone who wants to make a difference start something great, work on that great idea, help your neighbour with his, invest in your niece to help her with hers - sitting around a griping that others aren't doing anything doesn't never really gets anything done.

Not going forward means to be left behind

Several years ago (2009) Dunedin airport management considered the major (but not unaffordable) upgrade to the enterprise: extending the runway to the 2400m which would allow to host bigger jets, improve the flexibility (weather) and security. They decided not to do anything with it. Now, whom we should blame that the carriers are moving towards the airports which  chose to develop up to modern standard? The accommodation in Momona for transit  passengers also would be a big leap forward.  Lack of strategic thinking is a plague for many decision makers here.

Flights

Surely someone in the business community would be aware that flights would be expensive this weekend with a rugby test and university holidays sucking up demand, empty seats would be at a premium.

Unfortunately one upset person does not fill an aircraft, it's easier to moan at a business rather than find 100 of your friends to all book tickets everyday on every flight to justify operation of a service.

I suspect Mr Scandrett in his own business dealings would himself have to admit that he would not sell a product or offer a service if it was not financially beneficial to himself. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

ODT/directory - Local Businesses

CompanyLocationBusiness Type
Suburbanscapes Landscape Design & Garden ManagementDunedinConsultants
Chopchop DesignDunedinWeb Design & Development
Tinware IndustriesDunedinSpecialist Trades
Mercure Resort QueenstownQueenstownHotels