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Air New Zealand is downplaying the imminent arrival of Qantas’s low budget airline Jetstar to operate daily out of Auckland, flying passengers to both Sydney and the Gold Coast.
“Qantas has been saying it will introduce new aircraft for some years but has failed to do so therefore we take what it says today with a grain of salt,” says Bruce Parton, Air New Zealand group general manager Short Haul.
“The seat capacity increase would add less than 2% to the total Tasman market,” he adds.
Air New Zealand operates more than 150 return services a week between New Zealand and Australia.
Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan expects Jetstar to take a price leadership position on its new Auckland routes and will provide even greater choice for travellers.
“We are committed to offering the lowest fares on the transtasman market,” he says.
Kiwis will enjoy the increased competition on transtasman flights as Air New Zealand is bound to lower its prices to the Gold Coast and Sydney as Pacific Blue (Virgin Airlines low-budget airline) already flies those routes from Auckland.
With the new low-budget player appearing in the skies from April next year they will have to prepare for yet another price war.
As expected, Auckland Airport welcomes the new player on the tarmac.
“This announcement supports the strong potential for growth in the transtasman market, and will ensure New Zealand’s gateway continues to serve demand for travel to and from our closest neighbours,” Auckland Airport chief executive officer Simon Moutter says.
Jetstar already operates out of Christchurch Airport and with these two new daily routes out of Auckland equates to 258,000 additional seats on offer each year – or in other words potentially 258,000 fewer seats on Air New Zealand flights, but a lot more foot traffic at Auckland Airport.