The New Zealand government has intervened to lower Air New Zealand fares to Christchurch after Friday’s terrorist attack.
The move comes after Twitter user Guled Mire posted a screenshot showing return fares for almost $NZ800.
.@FlyAirNZ this is ridiculous! People are literally trying to fly in to #Christchurch to be loved ones and for funerals happens in the next day or so. Pretty pathetic to be prioritising profit in current circumstances. pic.twitter.com/NtFD8egEHY
— Guled Mire (@GuledMire) March 16, 2019
The airline responded on twitter by saying they had put on extra capacity, but had limited availablity resulting in the higher fares.
We’re saddened by the tragic events that has occurred and are trying to help those with travel over the weekend and those that are directly affected. Although we’ve been putting on additional capacity we have very little availability which is why the fares have increased. ^NA
— Air New Zealand✈️ (@FlyAirNZ) March 16, 2019
New Zealand’s Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, responded on twitter that he had spoke to Air New Zealand to make his views clear. Air New Zealand is 52% owned by the New Zealand Government with the Finance Minister being the controlling shareholder of the airline.
I have just made contact with Air New Zealand and made my views clear. I know they do offer compassionate fares at times and this would have to be one of them.
— Grant Robertson (@grantrobertson1) March 16, 2019
Since the intervention Air New Zealand has capped Christchurch fares at $NZ139 with those that had already bought tickets after 3:00pm Friday receiving a partial refund to the level of the reduced fares.
Air New Zealand media statement in full:
Air New Zealand has capped one-way domestic fares for flights directly to and from Christchurch at $139 to assist customers needing to travel there to support those affected by the shooting tragedy.
17 March 2019
The airline has seen a huge increase in demand for travel to and from Christchurch over the past 24 hours and flights have been generally operating at or near capacity.
The airline has had compassionate fare assistance in place since Friday which has seen it offer free travel to immediate family of deceased as well as discounted compassionate fares to other affected friends and family with close to 100 bookings made so far, including a number of group bookings. The airline’s contact centre teams has been asking callers since Friday about their reason for travelling to Christchurch to ensure they proactively identify customers travelling to support the families of the victims.
Air New Zealand introduced travel flexibility on Friday allowing any customer booked to travel on services to or from Christchurch over the weekend to automatically have the option to change or rebook any tickets without incurring any change fees or difference in fare. Customers are advised to consult the airline’s Travel Alerts page for more details.
All destination Christchurch domestic bookings made with Air New Zealand after 3.00pm on Friday, March 15, will be refunded back to the level of the reduced fares.
Beyond the measures Air New Zealand has introduced for customers affected by the shooting tragedy in Christchurch, it has also been working closely with the Prime Minister’s office to support the transport of key people to Christchurch including emergency services personnel.
The airline has transported more than 70 Police officers from around New Zealand to Christchurch and various emergency support personnel, including eight specialist doctors from Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington and Tauranga.
The airline has also been working with the wider Muslim community to facilitate travel to Christchurch to assist with arrangements.