12 Nov 2014

Rural NZ hit by flight losses - FF

8:23 pm on 12 November 2014

The loss of Air New Zealand flights to three provincial centres is another step in the steady deterioration of rural New Zealand, Federated Farmers says.

Air New Zealand plane

Photo: PHOTO NZ

The airline announced yesterday it would be stopping services to Kaitaia, Whakatane and Westport, because the services were underused and becoming too costly to run.

Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president Katie Milne said the loss of flights in and out of Westport was just another example of a lack of investment in rural New Zealand.

"Because it is one less thing that Westport has got to offer to anyone who may be wanting to move to a small region like that," she said.

"It would make you think twice about it. It's not a great thing for regional development."

AirNZ had claimed fares on other regional routes would fall and Ms Milne said she would be watching to see if that happened.

Meanwhile, a Far North businessman who cannot gain access to fast broadband internet said rural communities were being abandoned in favour of the big cities.

Farming leader and Kaitaia retailer Ian Walker said although the new fibre optic cables ran right outside his doorstep, he could not connect to them and was frustrated.

"The fibre goes right across our front driveway but we've been told we're not allowed to connect to it because we're not an appropriate organisation, even though we're an IT company," he said.

"But it's a part of this Chorus deal. No doubt this copper network is going to be sweated out and that Chorus will make their money out of the copper networks in the regions while everybody downloads movies in Remuera, so I don't know. It's just another example of where it's going."

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