Air NZ's domestic fare price hike 'making it hard for New Zealanders to like the airline' - Consumer NZ

Consumer New Zealand says Air New Zealand is risking losing customers by raising its domestic fares by five per cent from tomorrow.

The national carrier cited rising fuel, goods, service and other prices in its decision, despite saying in February this year it was "on track for second highest profit in company history".

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin, speaking on TVNZ1's Breakfast today, said consumers should remember to shop around, and reminded people that they can vote with their choice of airline.

"They're allowed to put their prices up, they're in business, but are they ripping us off is probably another question," Ms Chetwin said.

"They will have all these reasons."

The airline is blaming rising fuel prices for hiking its prices five per cent. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Chetwin said the airline maintains a consumer-friendly public persona, but their recent actions seemed to contradict that, including dropping a number of regional routes.

"From a consumer perspective, they want us to think they're the great New Zealand airline, they look after us, they have schmultzy videos," she said.

"But they're also the airline that was duping us into paying for insurance until they were warned to stop it by the regulator.

"It's going to be hard for them to maintain that sort of family-friendly airline that we're all going to travel.

"They are making it hard for New Zealanders to like the airline."

In a press release on February 22, Air New Zealand said it was on track for the "second highest profit in company history", with earnings before taxation in the first six months of the 2018 financial year of $323m.

Their net profit was $232m and they raised the shareholder dividend 10 per cent.

Chairman Tony Carter said in the release: "Looking to the remainder of the year, we are optimistic about the overall market dynamics.

"Based upon the current market conditions and despite the increased price of jet fuel, the Company is still expecting 2018 earnings before taxation to exceed the prior year".

Sue Chetwin says the five per cent rise in domestic fares taking effect this week should be a reminder to people that alternatives exist. Source: Breakfast

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Property data expert says Capital Valuations 'irrelevant' in a moving market

Capital Valuations should be dropped as as a way to price a property for the market because they're irrelevant once the market moves, according to a data expert for a valuation website.

Traditionally CVs prepared by councils are used to allocate rates, but they've also been useful starting points for potential purchasers.

However, suddenly a staggering number of houses in Auckland and Christchurch are selling below CV, Seven Sharp reported.

In one third of all Auckland suburbs - that's 50 of them - houses are now worth less than their CV. They're also worth less than the CV in nine Christchurch suburbs.

Tom Lintern, chief data scientist for homes.co.nz, said historically we're used to houses selling for well above CV.

"Now we've got to get used to the fact that in some areas houses are selling for less." 

Councils only publicly release CVs every three years. So, in a market that's changing so rapidly, and with some house prices being so unexpected, council valuations fast become out of date. 

Mr Lintern said CVs are "relevant at the time that they're released, but quickly become irrelevant as the market moves".

Asked is this the death of the CV as a way to price the property for market, he said: "I think it should be." 

His advice is to use council CVs as soon as they're released, and after that compare free valuations which are available at a number of places online. 

"The more up to date information, so the value of a home right now, is good for both buyers and sellers. It evens the playing field and the data is transparent for all," Mr Lintern said. 

An increasing number of homes in Auckland and Christchurch are selling below their capital value. Source: Seven Sharp

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Chorus sub-contractors taking employees' cash for promises of visas - union

A union for migrant workers says Chorus sub-contractors have been taking their employees' cash for promises of visas.

An investigation by the Labour Inspectorate found 73 sub-contractors working on Chorus's ultra-fast broadband network in Auckland failed to keep employment records, pay the minimum wage and provide employment agreements.

The investigation only confirmed what First Union's general secretary Dennis Maga said he already knew - that Chorus sub-contractors had been exploiting migrant workers for years.

He said workers were in a vulnerable position because they were desperate to get work visas but they're too scared to confront their employees about their unfair and illegal treatment.

"They've been receiving promises from some of the sub-contractors that if they ever accept the working arrangement such as cashing out some money from their salary and giving it back to the employer then they'll be able to receive a sponsorship and extend their work visa in New Zealand," Mr Maga said.

The investigation has so far focussed only on Auckland, and there are several more phases before it will be completed, but Mr Maga believes the problem is nation-wide.

He says the government needed to toughen up on all sub-contractors.

Last year the government announced it would double the number of labour inspectors by 2020 in a bid to catch dodgy employers but the Minister for Workplace Relations Iain Lees Galloway said more needs to be done.

"The Government can actually achieve a lot through its procurement practices.

"What this also demonstrates is that a government that doesn't have its eye on the ball can miss some really outrageous exploitation of workers in New Zealand and we have to bring that sort of thing to an end," he said.

Mr Lees Galloway says immigrant workers have been let down by the government-led ultra fast broadband project, which started in Auckland in 2011.

But he said Chorus also had to be held to account.

"Principle contractors like Chorus must pay much closer attention to what's going on in their supply chains," Mr Lees Galloway said.

"It's not acceptable to say it's that this was out of their line sight, that they weren't aware of it, because ultimately they do have responsibility for those people who are working in their supply chains."

Chorus has launched its own independent review into the inspectorate's claims and has asked former deputy state services commissioner, Doug Martin, to lead it.

Chorus chief executive Kate McKenzie said the company was prepared to take responsibility for the problem.

"Obviously nobody wants to preside over an environment where there are allegations of workers being mistreated.

"That's not consistent with our values, that's not who we are so if we find that anything has occurred we will definitely be taking whatever action is required," Ms McKenzie said.

Labour Inspectorate national manager Stu Lumsden backed the review, but believed Chorus should never have had to do it in the first place.

"What we're saying to employers is you have a responsibility to comply with employment standards, don't leave it to a situation where the inspectorate comes along, finds the errors and then embarrasses your brand in the public arena."

Mr Lumsden said once the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment had finished its investigation into the 73 sub contractors in Auckland, it would look closely at Chorus' contractors throughout New Zealand.

rnz.co.nz

The labour inspectorate has found widespread exploitation of people rolling out the ultra-fast broadband network, many of whom are migrants. Source: 1 NEWS

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Wellington's Cuba St honours LGBTQI community with rainbow pedestrian crossing

The capital's famous Cuba Street bucket fountain now has some new competition from a newly installed rainbow pedestrian crossing.

Wellington is the first New Zealand city to join San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sydney to honour the LGBTQI community with a colourful zebra crossing. 

It will be be officially unveiled tomorrow. 

The capital will join San Francisco, LA and Sydney in turning a crossing rainbow. Source: 1 NEWS


'It's the fifth busiest airport in NZ' - take a look inside Nelson’s new $30 million terminal

Nelson Airport's new multi-million-dollar terminal is officially open.

The first arrival into the redeveloped facility touched down this morning – a sign of just how far the airport has come since first opening 44 years ago.

The new $30 million terminal is expected to cater for growth projections out to 2035, when 1.4 million passengers are expected to pass through here each year, Nelson Airport boss Rob Evans said.

“It's the fifth busiest airport in New Zealand, so that's behind Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown,” he said.

“The region economically is really strong, there's a lot of good industries here that are building nicely.”

Nelson is among a number of airports rebuilding or exploring expansion, although Airport Association chief executive Kevin Ward said some are struggling to survive on a commercial basis.

“If you're in a smaller centre where you've got fewer flights, it's much harder for them to do that within their own resources and it can be a burden on ratepayers in a small district. 

So things like the provincial growth fund, that's another avenue to support growth in the regions to keep those air connections going and to support the economic and social development.

Nelson and Tasman Council co-own the airport.

Nelson’s airport is the fifth busiest in the country, with numbers rapidly increasing since the old terminal opened in 1974. Source: 1 NEWS