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Pacific Blue Raises Domestic Fares And Misleads

Media release 8 May 2008

Pacific Blue Raises Domestic Fares And Misleads Customers

Air New Zealand has no immediate plan to follow Pacific Blue's recent move to increase its domestic airfares by up to 10%.

Pacific Blue last week quietly increased its domestic New Zealand airfares by up to 10% and is also selling seats on flights it will not be operating, while at the same time misleading customers of the true cost of purchasing fares via its website.

Pacific Blue's standard lead-in fares from Auckland to Wellington are now $75 compared to Air New Zealand's lead-in smart saver fare at $69, and Christchurch to Wellington fares are $65 compared to Air New Zealand's $59 lead-in smart saver fare.

The price hike comes despite Pacific Blue Commercial General Manager Adrian Hamilton-Manns claiming in the New Zealand Herald on 17 March; "We have no plans to raise prices; we're in the game of lowering them." He claimed at the time rising fuels costs were no issue for the carrier. "We don't have a pain threshold for fuel that I know of."

As well as trying to hide the increases, the carrier is selling hundreds of seats to customers on its website for flights that do not exist.

In late April, the carrier made schedule changes and reduced Auckland-Wellington capacity for July onwards from five to four return services per day. Despite making the change in travel agent global distribution systems (GDS), it is still selling the fifth service through its website.

"Pacific Blue is misleading the New Zealand public and its own customers," says Air New Zealand Group General Manager Short Haul Airline Bruce Parton.

"Hundreds of customers have made travel plans that cannot be fulfilled and to also vehemently say that you won't raise fares and then turn around a few weeks later and do so on the quiet is incredibly deceptive."

"I am also concerned by the airline's price advertising. Pacific Blue, like many low cost carriers including Jetstar, places a 'credit card surcharge' onto international airfares purchased over the internet.

"Jetstar, and previously Freedom Air, offers customers alternative forms of payment such as internet banking so they don't have to pay the credit card surcharge.

"Pacific Blue however does not offer an alternative form of payment through their website, therefore customers who wish to purchase online have no choice but to pay the additional $4 per sector charge.


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