Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Qantas and Air NZ to codeshare trans-tasman

As an opponent of anti-trust laws, I don't have a problem with privately owned airlines in an open market getting together. Although Air NZ and Qantas would not have done that had Dr Cullen let Air NZ be 49% owned by Singapore Airlines in the first place, that is now history. Unfortunately Air NZ is now predominantly state owned - and so it is at best, unclear, whether this collusion between Qantas (which so clearly has the political backing of the Australian Federal Government, as it shut out competition for Qantas on one of its most profitable routes) and the state carrier should be allowed.

However, I can laugh at one point - the claim by the airlines that this is good for consumers. Check these claims:

* Air New Zealand customers currently have the choice of 134 Tasman departures per week. Under the proposed codeshare with Qantas this would increase by 63% to 218 departures.

Well, actually customers can choose between all of the airlines. Nobody is forced to use one airline - at best the claim that you can earn frequent flyer points/airpoints dollars on more flights is true.

* Better schedule spread (access to 63 % more flights a week across the Tasman).

OK, there are less flights - are the remainder going to happen at hours that people don't want that much??

* Greater range of connecting options and enhanced seamlessness of service.

You both have deals with each other for connecting to each others' domestic networks already.

* Potential for new destinations and improved frequencies.

So the new route to Adelaide happened because?? You're reducing frequencies - so what is that about?

* Cost savings from extraction of capacity (removal of two aircraft from the Air New Zealand fleet and one from Qantas) will allow sustainability of low fares.

Yes, though there will be less low fares- you use those to try to fill all those half empty planes.

Oh well, as a libertarian I don't advocate the government stop it - but it isn't much good for consumers, particularly those flying from Wellington since only Air NZ and Qantas fly from Wellington to Australia. Meanwhile, remember that this wouldn't have happened had it NOT been for government interference in the first place- why should Dr Cullen have held up Singapore Airlines' investment in Air NZ in 2001?

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