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Marlborough could get boost after Jetstar Nelson withdrawal

Marlborough could get tourism boost after Jetstar withdrawal from Nelson

Jetstar has done Marlborough a favour by pulling flights from regional centres in New Zealand, the region's tourism boss says.

Destination Marlborough chairman Nigel Gould said Blenheim could see an increase in tourism now that Jetstar has left Nelson Airport, removing price competition between the region's two airports.

Marlborough Airport could see a jump in passengers following Jetstar's departure from Nelson Airport. CREDIT: SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF/SUPPLIED

"Anybody looking at pricing comparative positions between Nelson-Auckland and Blenheim-Auckland [flight paths] will immediately see the prices are almost in the same position, which is great," he said.

"It that means Blenheim is now considered, officially, the gateway into the top of the south, and is on an equal footing with Nelson."

Jetstar ended flights from Nelson, Napier, Palmerston North and New Plymouth in late November, saying rising fuel prices and a slowing economy made them unsustainable.

Gould said the knock-on effects were "already very apparent" in Blenheim. A search of the Air NZ website showed flights to Auckland cost about the same from Blenheim and Nelson.

Marlborough Airport chief executive Dean Heiford said it was too soon to see an increase in passenger numbers, but he expected more Marlburians would travel though Marlborough's airport, rather than Nelson's, in future.

"There have been a lot of cheaper options out of Nelson [Airport] in the past, but now, with Jetstar leaving, we will see an equalisation of fares, so there's no advantage to going to one airport over another," Heiford said.

He said Jetstar leaving Nelson reduced chances it would join Marlborough.

"One of the things Nelson Airport had over Marlborough Airport was sheer numbers, with a higher number of passengers serviced in a year," he said.

"It's a market other airline companies are looking to get into, and with us having less passengers, it's not viable to have a third contender yet."

When asked if Marlborough Airport was still looking at attracting airlines, he said the company was "always looking at other options" for the public.

"Competition brings the prices down, both out of Marlborough, and into it."

Destination Marlborough general manager Jacqui Lloyd said Jetstar's departure would help give airlines and tourism companies a "more rounded picture" of who travelled in and out of Marlborough.

This could impact ticket pricing, flight frequency or flight routes.

"We've heard anecdotally that people will go to Nelson to fly domestically, so then airlines think there's no need for more flights to come out of Blenheim.

"This will make a difference."

Jetstar's departure also gave Sounds Air, a Marlborough company which also operated in Nelson, a "great opportunity" in the top of the south, she said.

Lloyd and Gould presented Destination Marlborough's 2019-20 annual plan to the Marlborough District Council's planning, finance and communities committee last week.

The annual report showed Marlborough's seven-month tourism season, which ran from October to April, was extending, Gould said.

ENDS

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