Jetstar has unveiled its new regional network in New Zealand, launching low fares on five routes between Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Auckland and Wellington.
Nelson-Auckland and Napier-Auckland flights will take off from the beginning of December, in time for the busy tourism season in both popular holiday destinations.
New Plymouth-Auckland, Palmerston North-Auckland and Nelson-Wellington flights will follow early next year, with services scheduled to begin from 1 February 2016.
Jetstar Australia and New Zealand CEO, David Hall, made the announcement this week in Wellington, joined by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Transport Minister Simon Bridges.
“Today we’re delivering on our commitment to bring low fares and increased competition to communities around the country,” he said.
Regular one-way lead-in fares on the new regional services are $45 Nelson-Wellington and New Plymouth-Auckland and $49 on the three other routes.
Jetstar first announced plans for a regional network in June this year and has been considering proposals from locations across the country for its initial expansion.
“In the past several weeks our New Zealand management team has travelled to eight regional centres and received a warm welcome and very positive support in every city we’ve visited,” Hall said.
“The feedback we’ve received from local councils, airports, economic agencies, businesses, and the tourism and travel trade has been invaluable in helping us to choose our first four destinations.
“We’ve also had fantastic support from potential customers who are keen to have a choice of airlines.
“We believe the routes we’ve announced today offer the strongest opportunities to grow the market and make a real difference to local economies and locals’ wallets, encouraging more travel and saving people money when they fly.”
Hall said the valuable relationships forged with all the regions would continue.
“We’ll keep talking with stakeholders in Hamilton, Rotorua, Invercargill and Tauranga because they’ve all expressed a desire for airline competition and they support Jetstar’s model of stimulating market growth through lower fares.”
New Zealand Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have this welcomed increased competition in the regional aviation market.
“It’s great to see increased air competition into some of our key regional centres. Transport linkages are crucial for regional development and these new air linkages will help boost business and tourism traffic into regions like Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and Manawatu/Whanganui,” Joyce said.
“I know it’s been a very competitive process between the different regions for the opportunity to host the new carrier.
“I’m confident that this expansion of regional routes will be successful and lead to more competition on regional routes in the future.
“Competitive air travel into regional New Zealand will help share the benefits of economic development and tourism around the country.”
Bridges said: “Today’s announcement is great news for consumers… As we have seen in recent years, competition between Air New Zealand and Jetstar has ensured passengers travelling on main-trunk routes have had access to lower fares and more choice.
“So this announcement means new services will bring these same benefits to regional communities throughout New Zealand.
“Today’s announcement from Jetstar is just one of a number of new international and regional air services announced in recent months. These new services are a real vote of confidence in our aviation sector and the future prospects of regional New Zealand,” Bridges said.
Jetstar New Zealand head, Grant Kerr, said the initial five regional routes would build a strong base for considering more regional destinations.
“On our visits throughout the country the message was loud and clear that regional Kiwis want Jetstar’s entry to their markets to be sustainable because they’ve seen other airlines come and go,” said Kerr. “So that’s what we’re doing; building a strong base with our initial destinations so we can look at other opportunities in the future.”
Kerr said the airline would be taking a phased approach to launching the new operations, starting the leisure routes of Nelson-Auckland and Napier-Auckland in December and other routes two months later.
“Jetstar has built a reputation for strong on-time performance and reliability on our domestic jet services in the past couple of years and we’ll be bringing that focus to our regional services as well.”
Jetstar’s regional network will add more than 670,000 new seats a year to the domestic market, a significant increase on the airline’s current domestic jet seat capacity of over 2.6 million seats annually.
First flights each day will take off from regional ports, with crew and aircraft positioned overnight in each of the new destinations. Recruiting has commenced for the 100 new jobs the regional expansion will create, with positions available for pilots, cabin crew, and ground crew.
The Jetstar-branded regional services, which will be marketed and managed by Jetstar, 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.
Jetstar launched trans-Tasman flights in 2005 and established domestic operations in New Zealand in June 2009. The low cost carrier’s fleet of nine Airbus A320 aircraft operate up to up to 250 domestic and 100 international flights a week.