Regional air routes must be maintained

The Government must use its majority shareholding to make sure Air New Zealand cooperates with second tier airlines stepping into the regional routes it has abandoned, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

Air New Zealand’s cancellation of its Kaitaia, Whakatane, Taupo and Westport routes takes effect today.

“Unless Air New Zealand commits to inter-lining (which allows passengers on a connecting Air New Zealand flight to check their bags through to the second tier airline destination) and code-sharing (which provides seamless booking), it will be harder for smaller airlines to make these routes successful.

“Having walked away from these regional centres with the backing of the Government, this is the least Air New Zealand should do.

“Finance Minister Bill English and Transport Minister Simon Bridges should also make it clear to Air New Zealand that, as the majority shareholder, the Government expects it to serve the regions as part of its responsibility as our national carrier.

“It is not good enough for the Government to hide behind these regional cuts being a commercial decision. Air New Zealand is not elected to protect the interests of all New Zealanders, but the Government is.

“If the Government leaves it to market forces and continues centralising services, there will eventually be more and more people living in Auckland and fewer and fewer in regional New Zealand,” Phil Twyford says.