17 Aug 2010

Higher air fares predicted as Pacific Blue pulls out

7:31 am on 17 August 2010

The travel industry is warning that higher airfares are likely because of Pacific Blue's exit from the domestic market.

The airline will stop domestic flights by October and will instead concentrate on trans-Tasman services.

The Flight Centre and House of Travel expect prices to go up on domestic routes, especially in areas where one airline has the monopoly.

Consumer New Zealand chief executive Sue Chetwin agrees, and says travellers should start looking out for cheap domestic fares now. She anticipates that there will be fewer rock-bottom deals by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Dunedin mayor Peter Chin says his city's residents will be unfairly disadvantaged by the loss of Pacific Blue's domestic services.

Air New Zealand will have a monopoly when Pacific Blue withdraws its daily Dunedin to Auckland service, which Mr Chin says will mean higher air fares for those travelling to or from his city.

However he's optimistic that a review of domestic destinations by the Qantas-subsidiary Jetstar will result in the airline starting flights to Dunedin.

Jetstar has said it plans to to increase its New Zealand operations.

The airline says it will add two extra A320 aircraft to its eight-strong NZ fleet to support more domestic and trans-Tasman routes.