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Air NZ subsidiary fined $4,000 for breaching Act

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Monday 30th October 2000

Text too small?
Air New Zealand subsidiary, Freedom Air, has admitted it breached the Fair Trading Act over advertising airfares to Australia.

The Dunedin District Court has fined South Pacific Air Charters Limited, which is part of the Air New Zealand group and trades as Freedom Air International, $4,000 for making false or misleading claims about the prices of its "Christmas airfare sale".

The Commerce Commission, which prosecuted the charter airline, says ads in the Southland Times and the Otago Daily Times offered return airfares from Dunedin to Sydney or Brisbane for from $449.

It also says a banner in the ads offered another $100 off as part of a Christmas sale.

However Commerce Commission chairman, John Belgrave, says there were no fares available during that period at $449, let alone any at $100 off that price.

While fine print at the bottom of the advertisements qualified the offer, Mr Belgrave says consumers must be able to rely on the overall impression created by advertising, and all important terms and conditions must be accurately and clearly explained.

"All advertisers should consider their use of small print very carefully. If the message in small print is important, then why is it in small print?"

"If the style of advertising does not allow that important message to be made clear, then the style should be changed."

"In this case, Freedom Air's message was not accurate enough, was false or misleading and has led to a conviction, fine and the associated bad publicity."

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