Dunedin air links, while far from perfect, are not too
bad, writes Peter McIntyre, chairman of the Otago Chamber of
It's a perennial grump about living in Dunedin - the cost and
frequency of flights to get in and out of the city.
Since being raised again recently, the Chamber has been
considering how well the city is currently served by the
services provided by airlines at Dunedin International
And our conclusion is: not too bad, considering.
It's not perfect, but it's not too bad either.
At present, Air New Zealand and JetStar service Dunedin, with
the latter providing just a direct flight to and from
The cost of an Auckland flight can be quite cheap, if booked
far enough ahead, thanks to that small amount of competition.
Pricing on other routes remains an issue, and could be
improved, particularly when businesses require tickets at the
last minute. That's not an uncommon occurrence, and with many
Dunedin businesses involved in the Christchurch rebuilding
work, we would expect more of that last-minute demand in the
months and years to come on that particularly route.
We'd also like to see flights commence between Dunedin and
Queenstown, where, again, many businesses operate and need to
be on short notice.
Those brickbats aside, it could be worse.
It's important to remember that Dunedin is at one end of a
long country, and it's not a major international hub as
Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland are.
Air New Zealand has pulled out major services and large
planes from smaller or even similar-sized cities, such as
Hamilton, yet Dunedin still retains jet services.
It wasn't that long ago that to reach Auckland locals had to
go through either Wellington or Christchurch - but today we
have several direct flights to New Zealand's largest city
In fact, there are few locations in New Zealand you can't
reach from Dunedin by air within three hours' flying time.
And, Dunedin people have enthusiastically used international
services to Australia whenever they are offered.
Airlines obviously expect to make a profit, and they
therefore base their route planning and frequency and
capacity on demand. Therefore, for Air New Zealand to
increase services in and out of the city, demand needs to be
increased. The airline currently has the ability to increase
and decrease plane sizes based on booked-ahead demand, and
does so frequently.
Regular increased demand would change that schedule
It also has the capacity to influence demand by lowering
prices and there's no doubt we'd like to see more of that.
The chamber at all times in working for the benefit of its
members, through its logistics committee, will continue to
monitor and advocate for the commercial needs of its members
and more widely the citizens of Dunedin and greater Otago.
But the bottom line remains that our economy growing will be
the surest way of growing frequency of services or attracting
competitors to the route to lower prices.