The Dominion Post got my hopes up the other day.
I saw the words “Mayors Resigned” and though “Ooh – change is in the air at last!”
Sadly, the whole title was in fact “(Hawke’s Bay) Mayors Resigned to Losing Air New Zealand Base”.
Not only can they not work with each other, it seems Mayors Yule and Dalton can’t even convince New Zealand’s biggest (and regionally monopolistic) airline to be kinder to it’s busiest regional airport, reduce fares or keep crews (and jobs) stationed in Hawke’s Bay.
Mayor Dalton was even quoted as saying before their meeting with the airline “Air New Zealand is not price gouging in Hawke’s Bay and the region risks losing air services if the airline takes offence at the claims.” Oh, PLEASE!
Air New Zealand is in the box seat in Hawke’s Bay and virtually every other regional airport in New Zealand. They can do what they want and charge what they want when they want. If you have to fly our of one of a regional New Zealand centre at short notice, you do it at their price.
This has been a major issue for years. It’s only come up again in the last month thanks to electioneering. Will this “new” focus make any difference? It hasn’t before, so I don’t see why there should be any change now.
Which is a great shame because I would love to be able to afford to fly more often.
I can count the number of return flights I have made out of Hawke’s Bay Airport on one hand. Two of those trips were work trips paid for by my employers at the time and two were trips I won. The fifth was a connecting flight to Auckland as part of our Melbourne honeymoon. I can’t remember exactly how much this flight was, as it was just included in the package, but I do remember it being more than the cost of several nights’ accomodation (including breakfast) in Melbourne.
Every time I have flown it has felt special. Not just the physics of flight which takes a bit of getting your head around, but the experience – You’re taken further and faster than anything you’re used to and it’s all done in a style that makes me feel a bit “James Bondy”. So it’s an even bigger shame a majority of people can’t afford to experience it.
Most of the people I know who DO regularly fly in and out of Hawke’s Bay are, literally and figuratively, “High-flying business-people.” They have Koru Club memberships and regularly zip off to other New Zealand or international cities to do big deals and make lots of money. Everyone else I know, a far greater proportion, either drives or takes the bus because they simply can’t afford to fly.
The high cost of air travel isn’t just depriving us common folk of a wonderful experience, it’s also having a negative effect on our region’s current and future economy.
I have heard and read time and time again recently that one of the major factors inhibiting businesses’ intentions of moving to Hawke’s Bay is the high cost of air travel to and from the region. Our national airline is making huge profits out of ensuring regional centres lose opportunity and money.
So when our mayors don’t even appear to TRY to put up a fight when they “go in to battle” for a fair fare deal for their citizens and local businesses, while our rates pay for their frequent “council business” air travel and Koru Club memberships, it’s just rubbing salt into the wound.
Napier, Hastings and ALL OF HAWKE’S BAY deserve better!