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Travel Agents Applaud Decision Against Air NZ

Media Release

25 November 2005

Travel Agents Applaud Court Decision Against Air New Zealand

Travel agents have welcomed the decision by the Auckland District Court yesterday that found Air New Zealand had breached the Fair Trading Act by misleading customers about the real price of its airfares.

Travel Agents Association chief executive Paul Yeo applauded the court’s decision as a victory for both New Zealand consumers and travel agents.

“Our industry has been very vocal against this practice since it was first introduced. The consumer wants to see a single clear, unambiguous price for an airfare and not have to use a magnifying glass and a calculator to decipher and analyse the small print,” Mr Yeo said.

“Travel agents as well as consumers have been disadvantaged by this practice. Some airlines have used the increase in fuel prices to add fuel surcharges to airfares in a deliberate attempt to not only disguise the true cost of the airfare but also to force travel agents to collect such levies without recompense."

“Travel agents are becoming not only collectors of true ticket costs but in effect also tax collectors for a range of security and departure taxes that no-one pays us to collect.

Collecting a fuel surcharge is particularly irritating as it should be an operating cost that is included in the ticket."

“Travel agents are faced with increasing complexity in issuing tickets which are often based on numerous separate charges and fees. Some airlines do not help the situation by then charging agents when undercharges occur but not providing refunds for overcharges."

“The court decision is an important precedent and we believe all airlines should immediately move to all inclusive pricing and drop their fuel surcharges."

“Hopefully there will also be the possibility of not only absorbing the fuel charge into the airfare but also reducing it due to the falling cost of fuel. It is interesting that with fuel costs falling Air New Zealand has today upgraded its profit forecast by $40 million. This would appear to be a signal that the fuel surcharge won’t be reduced which is disappointing."

“Internationally there is growing support for all inclusive pricing and some airlines that serve New Zealand have already taken the initiative to do so."

As travel agents are the only ones who can provide the consumer with a wide variety of travel options and quotes from competing airlines Mr Yeo points out they are also in the best position to make sense of the maze of complex airfares for prospective travellers.

ENDS

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