Origin Pacific, New Zealands regional airline, today confirmed it will formally request the Commerce Commission to investigate what it says is predatory pricing by Air New Zealand. Origin Pacific says it is the subject of ongoing action by Air New Zealand, aimed at regaining its monopoly status on domestic routes.
Air New Zealand acts like the Telecom of the skies, said Origin Pacific spokesman, Brendon Burns. It price gouges those regions where it has an absolute monopoly to fund predatory pricing practices in the ten centres served by Origin Pacific.
Air New Zealand commenced new services on April 26 between Hamilton-Nelson and Palmerston North-Nelson. There was no mention in its media release that it is chartering aircraft from Vincent Aviation to fly those routes, already served by Origin Pacific.
Air New Zealand is complaining about unfair competition on the trans-Tasman and seeking support for code-sharing, yet at the same time it goes to the expense of leasing planes to take on its only real competitor in regional services, said Brendon Burns.
Last week, Air New Zealand announced special fares on three sectors Wellington-Blenheim, Auckland-Nelson and Nelson-Christchurch, all serviced by Origin Pacific.
This is the pattern. Air New Zealand attempts to squeeze out the competition on routes where there is an alternative, but you pay through the nose if you live in Whangarei or Invercargill, or any of the other centres not served by Origin Pacific.
Origin Pacific currently flies services to Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, New Plymouth, Wanganui, Palmerston North, Wellington, Blenheim, Christchurch and Nelson. It is starting a new service from Tauranga-Christchurch on June 28.
Mr Burns said Origin Pacific intends filing its formal application with the Commerce Commission in the next fortnight. It took the Commission two and a half years to issue a two and a half page finding in March that it was acceptable for Air New Zealand to have announced a Hamilton-Christchurch service, 8 days after Origin Pacific unveiled such plans.
We can only hope for a rapid determination to unbundle this monopolistic approach and give all New Zealanders the right to enjoy fair competition on regional air services.