To complement the Herald’s flying Air New Zealand vs driving costs for various NZ cities, I thought I’d work out similar comparisons for the Pacific Northwest, where I used to live. It’s a reasonable comparison — both have relatively sparsely spaced cities, though the roads are better there.
I used Alaska Airlines for the flying costs; they are the main local airline in the region. The costs are the cheapest flight on a random weekday in September — there will be some days and seasons when it’s cheaper or more expensive. The driving cost is based on the actual driving distance, not the straight-line distance, and uses the cost per mile specified for business tax deductions.
The results aren’t that different from NZ, except that the impact of competition is clearer: the Seattle–Calgary flight is much less expensive that you’d predict from the others, probably because there lots of one-stop alternatives via Vancouver.