Jetstar launches regional network with $9 fares, five routes, four destinations
By Fiona Rotherham
Aug. 31 (BusinessDesk) - Jetstar, the Qantas Airways budget offshoot, launched its new regional network in New Zealand with special $9 one-way fares and has narrowed down its choices to five routes and four destinations - Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth, and Palmerston North.
The first flights will be Nelson-to-Auckland and Napier-to-Auckland from the beginning of December in time for the busy tourism season in both holiday destinations, the airline said in a statement. New Plymouth-to-Auckland, Palmerton North-to-Auckland and Nelson-to-Wellington flights will follow from Feb. 1 next year.
The move ends Air New Zealand’s stranglehold on regional routes with the national airline pre-empting today’s announcement by already having discounted fares on a number of routes in the past month by between 11 percent and 40 percent and promised two million fares under $100 in the next financial year.
David Hall, Jetstar chief executive Australia and New Zealand, said Jetstar will offer $9 one-way regional fares between 9.30am and 1.30pm today for travel at certain times from December through to June. Regular one-way lead-in fares on the new regional routes will be $45 Nelson-to-Wellington and New Plymouth-to-Auckland and $49 on the other three routes.
In June, Jetstar signalled plans to expand into the regions in New Zealand from its current main trunk routes and has been considering proposals from eight regional centres.
“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,” Hall said.
He said while only four destinations have been chosen, the airline will continue talking with stakeholders in Hamilton, Rotorua, Invercargill and Tauranga because they’ve all expressed a desire for airline competition and support Jetstar’s low-fare model.
Jetstar New Zealand head Grant Kerr said the initial five regional routes would build a strong base for considering more regional destinations, and the feedback from regional leaders has been that they want Jetstar’s entry to their markets to be sustainable because they’ve seen other airlines come and go.
“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.
Jetstar’s regional network will add more than 670,000 seats a year to the domestic market, on top of its existing 2.6 million seats a year. That’s an estimated 12 percent extra capacity to the domestic market while Air New Zealand said last week it would add an extra 8 percent capacity to its domestic routes this financial year.
All Jetsar domestic fares in New Zealand, including the new regional services, will allow Qantas Frequent Flyer members to earn points which hasn’t been the case in New Zealand previously.
Recruiting has begun for the 100 new jobs Jetstar’s regional expansion will create, with positions for pilots, cabin crew, and ground crew.
The fleet of five 50-seat Q300 aircraft that will service the regional flights will be based on Auckland.
Jetstar launched trans-Tasman flights in 2005 and domestic operations in New Zealand in June 2009.