Air New Zealand has dropped its lowest consistent airfare prices to $59 between Nelson and other main centres from October, but the lowered cost seems to have flown under the radar for some. Its lowest fares from Nelson to Auckland, Wellington and Christchuch are currently priced around $79 (excluding special deals), but from around October 12, prices have dropped to $59 to fly one-way. The $59 fare is relatively consistent for many dates in October, November and December.
The airline has been much-criticised for its high regional airfares, and the lowered price comes in response to the recent announcement of at least two new airlines flying out from Nelson Airport.
Originair's first flight to Palmerston North takes off on Wednesday, and while Air New Zealand dropped that route earlier this year, Originair also intends to fly an existing Air New Zealand route from Nelson to Wellington starting in September.
Nelson resident Richard Wilson saw the changes in the flight prices after scouring ahead in the Air New Zealand booking website.
"Normally they make a bit of fanfare of advertising about it but they seem to have kept it below the radar."
He said those sorts of fares were "unheard of in recent years".
Air New Zealand said the reason for lowering the price was because they had invested in more than $300 million in new regional aircraft, giving scope to grow in capacity.
"This allows us to put more cheap seats into the market and we are pleased to see customers responding positively to this," said Air New Zealand spokesperson Janna Wilkinson.
Jetstar also announced it was considering Nelson to be a regional destination, and is expected to confirm whether they will commit to the region in September.
Kiwi Regional Airlines also recently announced they would start a direct route between Nelson and Hamilton and Nelson and Dunedin at the end of September.