31 Aug 2015

Jetstar flies into four new regions

1:37 pm on 31 August 2015

Jetstar has announced new regional routes, with the budget airline set to fly into Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North.

The Jetstar Q300 turbo-prop aircraft which will fly the regional routes.

The Jetstar Q300 turbo-prop aircraft which will fly the regional routes. Photo: Supplied / Jetstar

The Qantas-owned airline said this morning that it would start flying some of the new regional routes by the end of the year.

Hamilton, Rotorua and Invercargill were also on the airline's shortlist, but have missed out.

A fleet of five 50-seater planes are expected to fly the routes. The service is expected to create at least 100 new jobs for pilots and cabin and ground crews.

The Nelson-Auckland and Napier-Auckland flights will take off from the beginning of December, while New Plymouth-Auckland, Palmerston North-Auckland and Nelson-Wellington flights are scheduled to begin from 1 February.

The Jetstar Q300 turbo-prop aircraft which will fly the regional routes.

The Jetstar Q300 turbo-prop aircraft which will fly the regional routes. Photo: Supplied / Jetstar

Jetstar is offering special $9 one-way regional launch fares today, and regular one-way fares on the new services will be $45 for the Nelson-Wellington and New Plymouth-Auckland routes, and $49 on the three other routes, Nelson-Auckland, Palmerston North-Auckland and Napier-Auckland.

Aviation commentator Peter Clark said flying to Nelson made sense as it was an ideal location between the North and South islands.

New Plymouth will bring forward parts of an $11 million redevelopment of its airport to accommodate the budget airline. New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd said a temporary terminal would be built alongside the existing terminal to accommodate Jetstar and extensions made to the runway apron.

Mr Judd said the decision was a real boost to the region which was suffering from a downturn in the dairy and oil and gas sectors.

Venture Southland's tourism team leader Warwick Low said he was disappointed because Southland organisations put in a big effort lobbying Jetstar.

"We were confident, but realistic - maybe we just have to wait a little longer to open our Christmas presents as such."

All of the new routes are currently serviced by Air New Zealand, which has already announced it will be cutting fares.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Jetstar head Grant Kerr has insisted its push into more regions was about generating economic growth rather than trying to steal existing business from rivals

In June, he said travellers benefited from cheaper prices when Jetstar entered a market, with prices falling 40 percent on average.

Jetstar chief executive David Hall said today he worked closely with the councils, business and tourism sectors in all of the areas it considered.

"We've worked with those areas to be able to support our launch of those routes. It's thing like marketing support, or thing like offering to travel with us as the best fare of the day, and all those areas that will make it sustainable from the start."

Mr Hall said working with the regions had meant it could keep its costs low.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party says the Government should use its purchasing power to promote competition on the regional routes Jetstar will now service.

Labour's transport spokesperson Phil Twyford said public servants should be encouraged to actively compare prices between the two airlines.

"Most government entities have what's called a 'best fare of the day' principle, but I don't think it's been implemented very rigourously.

"And what I think the government has to do is make sure the tens of millions of dollars it spends every year on domestic air travel is genuinely being spent on the best fare of the day."

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