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Polynesian Airlines fined $7,500

Second airline prosecution for misleading advertising - Polynesian Airlines fined $7,500

In the second airline industry prosecution by the Commerce Commission in less than a fortnight, Polynesian Limited, trading as Polynesian Airlines, was fined $7,500 plus costs in the Auckland District Court today for misleading advertising.

The charges were brought against the company following newspaper and television advertising last year of an $889 flight and accommodation package to Samoa. Despite the nationwide coverage of the advertising, the offer was only available ex-Auckland, which was not stated.

The Commerce Commission initiated its investigation into Polynesian Airlines after receiving information from a member of the public who had seen the advertisement in the Christchurch Press and subsequently been quoted an additional $400 for a connection to the flight.

Director of Fair Trading Deborah Battell said that the advertising was clearly misleading given that the price was only available for a passenger travelling from Auckland.

"Someone who saw the advertisement in The Press or The Dominion would have every right to expect the $889 fare applied to flights from Christchurch or Wellington airport," she said.

Judge Deobhakta indicated that the advertisements were "clearly misleading as to their price" and the fact that they did not mention that the advertised fare was only available from Auckland was seriously misleading to the consumer.

In fining the company, Judge Deobhakta acknowledged that the advertising only ran for a day before the company amended it of its own volition.

In resolving its investigation, the Commission offered a settlement agreement with Polynesian Airlines, on the basis of it accepting liability. The settlement offer was rejected by the company.

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