Something urgently needs to be done about the price of airfares in and out of Hawke's Bay.
Air NZ currently holds a monopoly on the routes to Wellington and Auckland, as they do on other regional services. The concept is simple and used by national airlines around the world - the airline charges what it likes on regional routes to offset the cheap flights it offers on the main trunk lines where it faces competition. That is all well and good, but it does not help travellers to and from the regions.
For the past year this newspaper has called for a competitor to be allowed to operate in our local market and for direct flights to Australia. A number of reasons have been given as to why this can't be done, but people who fly to Auckland or Wellington regularly are now sick of Air NZ holding them to ransom.
Our front page story today says many people are driving to other centres to catch cheaper flights further afield. Even Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule seems to be questioning the status quo. The simple fact is the current arrangement is not working for us.
Hastings district councillor Simon Nixon, who has long called for the monopoly to end, says the Hawke's Bay Airport board should be changed because they have not made progress in bringing in a competitor for Air NZ. I don't think the board should be removed, I just think it should move - on this issue.
It may even be doing that, but we have yet to see any evidence. Mr Yule says there is a new round of negotiations with Jetstar, but we shall see.
Hawke's Bay Today will look at this issue in depth this week and hopefully, with your help, we can bring about change so it does not cost an arm and a leg to fly to Auckland or Wellington.
A cheaper fare is only fair, Air NZ.