Airline discontinues regional discount card

Air New Zealand has grounded a discount scheme for those using regional airports.

The airline is no longer offering the Starfish card, which was launched in July 2010.

That $200 card gave customers an automatic 15% discount on all regional air fare types, but those who bought an $800 card would qualify for a 30% discount.

The card applied to Air New Zealand regional flights, originating from or departing to regional airports including Invercargill, Wanaka, Timaru, Hokitika, Westport and Nelson.

Existing card-holders would continue to enjoy the benefits of the programme until the expiry of the current membership.

An Air New Zealand spokesman said Starfish was introduced with the aim of stimulating regional air travel.

''While many of our customers have enjoyed Starfish and its benefits over the three-and-a-half-year lifetime of the programme, it has not, in fact, encouraged regional customers to increase their frequency of travel.''

The airline had worked continuously to improve regional fares and would continue to do so. The average fares on regional flights remained lower than five years ago, he said.

''This is despite significant increases in costs, in particular fuel and landing fees.''

Air New Zealand remained committed to cheap fares for regional travel.

''We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in bigger and more efficient aircraft,'' he said.

'' In 2014, we will further strengthen our commitment to offering more deals every day to our regional destinations, with a series of planned initiatives.''

Wanaka Chamber of Commerce chairman Alistair King said the discount scheme was not well promoted and he was not surprised to hear the airline had cut it.

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