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Express Class fares good for New Zealand businesses bottom line

Travel News Asia 17 October 2002

New Zealand's small and medium sized businesses are increasingly seeing the new Air New Zealand Express Class fares as a benefit to their bottom line. - simply, the reduced cost of air fares will mean a reduced cost of doing business and an encouragement to undertake more domestic business travel.

An Air New Zealand study of the travelling habits of small and medium business (SME) customers and their spending levels in the past year has shown that this important and rapidly growing sector of the New Zealand economy stands to save an average of 26% on their travel budgets if booking the same level of a comparative ravelfares on the new Express Class fares service.

The figures, for the last financial year, show SME companies made an average of 24 round-trip domestic business flights. Translating typical buying patterns to the new Express Class fares, their travel budgets would now stretch to an additional six return flights.

New Zealand's smaller companies have been quick to recognise the potential to 
re-think their approach to planning business travel.

In just one instance, the Association of Bursars of Independent Schools, saved an estimated $8,000 -$10,000 by putting their forthcoming conference back by a week to ensure they took advantage of the new fares which start on November 1.

Colin Sweetman, association president and bursar of Christ's College, Christchurch added: "We've collectively saved a significant amount of money which can be spent on other school needs. I think Express Class is a very positive development for the business community. Removing food from the aircraft doesn't worry me at all, it's irrelevant. 

Alastair Kent-Johnston, managing director of engineering, surveying and planning consultants Harrison Grierson, claims the new lower fares will have "a significant impact on our bottom line".

"As a 145-employee company with six offices around New Zealand we have a sizeable travel bill each month. Fares had become so high earlier this year that we switched our business around to whoever could get us there more cheaply. With the advent of Express Class, the percentage of our bookings on Air New Zealand will lift substantially. It's good news for business travellers."

Richard Jones, chief executive of the Wellington-based Poutama Trust, believes his staff will fly more often as a result of Express Class fares.

"As a Maori business development service, we travel extensively into the regions. Provided we can plan our journey well ahead we'll probably be able to fly between centres like Wellington and New Plymouth for less, in terms of elapsed time and cost, than driving," he said.

Christchurch-based David Peterson, general manager of car importer and wholesaler Integrity Cars, described the new fares as "far closer to reality".

"The website system looks very user-friendly and the fares are a huge improvement. We'll try and manage our travel differently to plan further ahead in order to take advantage of the cheaper fares. Give me the discounts over sandwiches any day."

In addition, the advent of one way pricing is a particular boon to business travellers - allowing more flexibility than ever before with the ability to mix and match fare types according to personal needs.

The advent of one-way pricing is a particular boon to business travellers - allowing them to mix and match fare types. 

For example if they have to be somewhere for a meeting due to start at 9am they can book a cheaper, less flexible fare because they're unlikely to want to change that flight, . However, but if they there is some uncertainty are uncertain about how long the meeting will run on for,, they can book a fully-flexi fare will provide the level of flexibility required for their return flight.

Cheaper and more flexible airfares are just one way the airline is improving its offering to business travellers. From November 1, Air New Zealand will offer ExpressCheck, a 30-second self check-in facility, and TextExpress, a mobile text message alert for flight delays. Both innovations are aimed at saving. business travellers' time and simplifying their pre-boarding experience.

Central to its strategy of better serving business travellers, Air New Zealand is also refurbishing its Auckland Koru lounge to include a range of design and technology innovations. The refurbishment will be completed by the end of October.

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