The Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) today raised concerns about the process by which Air New Zealand and Qantas trans-Tasman code-share agreement will be considered. Paul Yeo, chief executive of TAANZ said, We believe that the decision making process needs to be transparent and rigorous, and seen to be so.
Given the potential impact on consumers and the New Zealand economy, TAANZ wants the Minister to refer the application to the Commerce Commission for a full enquiry. This would enable all those with an interest to submit evidence, and for the evidence to be thoroughly and openly tested.
TAANZ is currently in the process of determining its position on the code-share application with the majority of feedback from its members currently running strongly against the proposal.
Mr Yeo says, The fact that the Government is the majority shareholder in Air New Zealand requires the decision process to be above reproach. Involving the Commerce Commission would ensure that the application was scrutinised and openly tested. This would also go some way toward pre-empting the Governments conflict of interest and fulfil its obligation to consider the public interest and potential anti-competition effects on consumers.
TAANZ has written to the Hon Pete Hodgson, the Minister with delegated authority for considering the airlines application, stating its preference for him to refer the airlines application to the Commerce Commission.
Should there be some impediment to the Minister involving the Commission, TAANZ believes the Minister should demonstrate: how the public interest and competition impacts on consumers will be addressed, what expert and independent advice will be used to test the application, whether submissions from interested parties will be sought and taken into account, and whether there will be an opportunity to respond to any initial determination?
TAANZ understands that the Governments current intention is that the Ministry of Transport will consider the application and advise the Minister with delegated authority who will authorise (or not) the airlines code-share agreement.
Mr Yeo says, TAANZ believes the process is not sufficiently clear or transparent. This application is of significant interest to our members, their customers and to the wider New Zealand economy. We look forward to hearing Mr Hodgsons response and trust that he will move to address these concerns.