PM hails Jetstar's regional expansion

The rival to Air New Zealand will bring cheaper fares and generate more tourism outside the main centres.   Nevil Gibson discusses his latest Editor's Insight on NBR Radio and on demand on MyNBR Radio.

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Jetstar will set up its own regional air services by the end of the year in a move Prime Minister John Key says will bring cheaper air travel and generate more tourism outside the main centres.

Mr Key was in Auckland today for the announcement by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, who extolled the strength of the New Zealand economy, saying its Jetstar subsidiary is profitable “and now is the time to grow it.”

The new services will be to at least four regional destinations initially, with some of those under consideration being Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier and Palmerston North in the North Island and Nelson and Invercargill in the South Island.

They will be operated by a fleet of five 50-seat Bombardier Q300 turbo-prop aircraft previously run by QantasLink in Australia. The new venture is expected to create at least 100 new jobs for pilots, cabin crew and ground staff. Jetstar currently has a staff of 400 in New Zealand to run its main-trunk jet services.

Regional fares will go on sale in September with first flights taking off in early December, Jetstar says.

“This is the next stage of the growth of Jetstar in New Zealand," Mr Joyce says. "We are also pleased to see how well the New Zealand economy is going.”

Regions to be consulted
The airline will consult with airports, local government and businesses in the proposed regional centres over the next two months before the network and flight frequencies are confirmed.

Tickets will go on sale in September ahead of flights during the Christmas holiday season. 

Mr Joyce says when Jetstar started transtasman operations in 2005 and domestic services in 2009, fares dropped typically by 40%.

“It benefited local businesses, tourism and the economy. Those benefits will now come to regional areas where air fares are too high.”

He says further benefits will come from linking those centres with international destinations in the wider Qantas, Jetstar and OneWorld alliance networks, such as Emirates and American Airlines.

The regional services will be operated by QantasLink. Under this arrangement, Qantas-owned Eastern Australia Airlines, which has operated Q300 aircraft in Australia for QantasLink for over 15 years, will manage the aircraft operations.

Mr Key says people in the regions “will be openly cheering” when they hear of Jetstar’s plans.

“The announcement will add more capacity and allow more international travellers as well as New Zealanders to get around the country more freely and arguably at a cheaper price,” he says.

“Competition keeps everybody their toes and delivers better prices… lots of capacity, plenty of deals and happy consumers.”

Auckland Airport CEO Adrian Littlewood welcomed the announcement which he said would benefit travellers flying regionally.

Airports welcome expansion plans
 BusinessDesk reports positive response from two of the country's major airports. 

Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood says it will benefit travellers flying regionally.

“The addition of Jetstar to the regional market is great news for travellers as it means more seats, better prices, and increased connectivity on regional services.. This will not only benefit people living in the regions, but also kiwis and international travellers wanting to visit the regions.”

Mr Littlewood says increased air connectivity is critical to reaching the targets outlined in the NZ Tourism Industry Association’s 2025 strategy.

Christchurch Airport CEO Malcolm Johns shares the same view, saying he was looks forward to working with Jetstar on this initiative which will enable visitors to get off the main trunk line more easily.

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