NEW FIJI AIR SERVICE DRAWS PASSENGER COMPLAINTS

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SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, April 25) – Consumers are suffering at the hands of the airline industry, says Consumer Council of Fiji chief executive officer Premila Kumar.

She said many consumer redress issues had been neglected by the industry and consumers should not have to put up with the negligence any longer.

Ms Kumar said Pacific Sun, the local subsidiary of Fiji's international airline Air Pacific, entered the domestic market this year with promises to deliver improved service quality and lower prices.

She said while the consumers had embraced the service offered by Pacific Sun, the council had received reports about consumers being disappointed with the airline's ticket pricing.

"Since its inauguration, Pacific Sun has been advertising its supposedly low airfares in the newspapers almost daily,"said Ms Kumar.

She said many customers who responded to the advertised airfares learnt that they had missed out on the fares and were expected to pay the full fare to their destinations.

Citing an example, she said one customer who had contacted the airline to book a return flight for Nadi/Labasa/Nadi for April 23 was told the special fare for the route had been sold out and that he was expected to pay the full fare for the return journey.

"Therefore, he was expected to pay $457.30, which is $61.30 more compared to the airline's competitor,"Ms Kumar said.

She said the council was concerned Pacific Sun might be resorting to bait advertising, which is disallowed under the Fair trading Decree 1992.

Section 65 (1) and (2) of the Decree prohibits the advertising of goods and services at certain prices if the advertiser does not intend to offer those goods or services at that price for a reasonable period of time and in reasonable quantities.

Pacific Sun general manager Manoa Kamikamica is expected to comment today.

Air Pacific chief executive officer John Campbell yesterday preferred to reserve his comments.

"(I) will not comment until such time as I have sighted direct material from the Consumer Council or had contact with officials from the council,"he said.

Ms Kumar said there was no independent organisation to check domestic and international fare pricing.

She said neither was the information provided in airline tickets sufficient for consumer information.

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