Australian carrier Jetstar Airways is to launch a four times weekly link from Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport to Ayers Rock (Uluru) providing a low-fare offering to one of the country’s most popular tourism destinations. The flights will commence from June 4, 2013 and will bring around 1,400 seats a week into the marketplace, although Qantas will suspend its own flights at the same time.
Jetstar Australia & New Zealand chief executive officer David Hall said the start of low fares to the region would help drive further tourism growth. “Jetstar has a proven record of generating new market demand through our low fares offering and we are excited to be launching our newest destination,” he said.
“Low fares will help grow the market making the region more accessible to domestic and international visitors and lower airfares means customers will have more disposable income when they arrive to view the majestic landscape of Uluru, explore the surrounding desert or even take in a four course meal under the stars,” he added.
Tourism NT chief executive officer Tony Mayell said the announcement was great news for Uluru and Central Australia. “We know that we are on most people’s bucket list and Jetstar has proven itself as an airline that can ignite the holiday market and get people to places that they may have previously believed were too expensive or difficult to get to,” he explained.
The switch from a Qantas to Jetstar operation will actually result in a reduction in seat capacity as the national carrier currently offers a daily service using a Boeing 737-800. Virgin Australia also offers flights using mainly Embraer 190 equipment. Qantas will continue to serve the market under a codeshare with Jetstar, although this will only be available for passengers flying into Australia on a Qantas international flight.
In 2011 an estimated 121,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew between Qantas and Ayers Rock, up 16.2 per cent on the previous year. However, over this period Qantas has seen its share of the traffic slip from 81 per cent to just 60 per cent as its main rival Virgin Australia has increased its penetration from 18 per cent to 39 per cent. Interestingly, Qantas average fares on the route in 2011 were almost double those being charged by Virgin Australia.