Airline could do more for Dunedin

Air New Zealand's plans to offer special student standby flights from Dunedin was good for students, but the airline could still be doing more for the city, a civic leader says.

While the airline is tight-lipped about the announcement, the Otago Daily Times understands Air New Zealand is planning on announcing trial $39 standby fares from Dunedin International Airport next month.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said although the announcement was not official, the airline should be commended for its proactive approach to the student community.

While the business community appeared satisfied with the frequency of flights, it was not satisfied with the ticket prices, and replacement of jet services, he said.

In May the ODT reported many routes serviced by the jet aircraft 737-300 (133-seat capacity), were now flown by ATR72-500, a twin turboprop regional airliner (68-seat capacity), due to the airline reviewing capacity over the quieter months.

Mr Christie said ATRs took longer to get to their destination "but it is better to have the service than none at all".

More competition from Dunedin was required to lower prices, he said.

Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin said while he would not comment on the topic of standby fares for university students until an official announcement had been made, flights remained a "big issue for the city".

Flying to and from Dunedin was more expensive than for other major centres and the downgrade of jet services had added considerable time to the journey, he said.

In his role as Chief Gambling Commissioner, Mayor Chin was a frequent flyer but always flew with the airline offering the cheapest deal.


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