As Air NZ drops domestic fare prices, Mark Mitchell says Shane Jones shouldn’t be 'interfering' in airline's business operations

National MP Mark Mitchell has taken a swipe at NZ First's Shane Jones after he warned Air New Zealand not to use their lower airfares as a "gimmick" or they would hear more from him.

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NZ First’s Mr Jones praised the airline’s lowering of domestic fares, but in the past he’s been a harsh critic. Source: Breakfast

Yesterday Air New Zealand announced that they would slash domestic airfare prices, allowing Kiwis to fly within and between the North and South Islands for as low as $39.

Today, Mr Mitchell and Mr Jones, the Regional Economic Development Minister, appeared together on TVNZ1's political panel, where Mr Jones praised Air New Zealand's price cuts.

"I've been a credible and consistent critic, but I'm not a churlish critic, and I think that it makes things more affordable and reduces the stress of travelling, in terms of cost - that's a really good idea, Mr Jones said.

"I guess my warning, though, to Air New Zealand: make sure this is not a one night stand with travellers. It has to genuinely lead to improved affordability for the provinces.

"It's good for the provinces, but I would say this: ensure it's across the board, not just for nana off to see the whanau in the middle of the day."

Mr Jones also explained what he thinks a "gimmick" would look like for the airline in terms of cutting fares.

"I don't think you can credibly talk up the drop in fares, but in actual fact, when you look at the detail, they're odd flights at odd times, and there are actually not a lot of seats available. That, to me, would be a gimmick.

Mr Mitchell said Mr Jones shouldn't be weighing in on Air New Zealand's day-to-day operations.

"I think if he's going to make statements, he's going to have to back them up, and I don't think, actually, that ministers should be interfering with Air New Zealand in terms of how they're actually running their business".

"I think it's a very good move in terms of what they've done. I hope it is sustainable, but they (Air New Zealand) are trying to get people into flights, and trying to get people to the regions - that's a good thing."