Travel Trouble

Joanita Wibowo

"Pretty pathetic": Air New Zealand slammed for "profiting" off Christchurch tragedy

"Pretty pathetic": Air New Zealand slammed for "profiting" off Christchurch tragedy

A New Zealand airline has dropped fares for Christchurch flights after a customer lambasted the skyrocketing ticket prices in the face of recent terror attacks.

National carrier Air New Zealand has announced that it will cap one-way domestic fares to and from Christchurch at NZ$139 following backlash from the public and government.

Previously, a return trip between Auckland to Christchurch had cost between $747 and $787 following Friday’s terror attacks on two mosques.

Activist Guled Mire took to Twitter to criticise the pricing on Saturday. “This is ridiculous! People are literally trying to fly in to Christchurch to be with loved ones and for funerals happening in the next day or so. Pretty pathetic to be prioritising profit in current circumstances,” Mire wrote.

The airline replied that the fares were increased because of the limited availability, even after they had added additional capacity.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson, the shareholding minister for Air NZ, also reprimanded the airline. The NZ government owns 52 per cent of the carrier.

“I have just made contact with Air New Zealand and made my views clear,” Robertson wrote on Twitter. “I know they do offer compassionate fares at times and this would have to be one of them.”

In a statement published on Sunday, Air NZ said they have offered free flights to immediate family members of the deceased as well as compassionate fares “to other affected friends and family with close to 100 bookings made so far, including a number of group bookings.”

The airline will also pay retroactive refunds for domestic bookings made after 3 pm on Friday to reflect the $139 cap.

On Friday, Christchurch saw mass shootings at two mosques. At least 50 people were killed, and 50 others were wounded, with the victims hailing from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Egypt. So far, the only perpetrator found to be linked to the terror attacks is 28-year-old Australian man Brenton Tarrant.