The first of five Bombardier Dash 8-Q300 turboprops to be painted in the Jetstar Airways to support its new regional services in New Zealand rolled out of the paint shop in Townsville this week. The aircraft were all formerly used by QantasLink and will be the first turboprops to fly under the Jetstar brand. In addition to the new livery, the Q300s are being given an interior refresh to match the Jetstar onboard product.
Jetstar plans to start regional services in New Zealand before the end of the year. The low-cost carrier will operate a fleet of five turboprops on the enhanced network in New Zealand, bringing low fare competition to many monopoly domestic routes outside the country’s main centres.
The initial network will cover at least four regional points in New Zealand and new destinations under consideration include Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier and Palmerston North in the North Island and Nelson and Invercargill in the South Island, in addition to the airline’s current network of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown.
Further details of the new services, including the four regional destinations they’ll be flying to in New Zealand, will be announced in a few weeks. Fares will go on sale at the same time, according to the carrier, with flights starting in December 2015 in time for the busy summer and holiday season.
Jetstar launched trans-Tasman services in 2005 and domestic New Zealand services in June 2009. The carrier’s fleet of nine Airbus A320 aircraft operate up to up to 240 domestic and 100 international flights a week and it has established crew bases in Auckland and Christchurch.
After ten years flying to New Zealand, Alan Joyce, chief executive officer of parent, Qantas Group, said now was the right time to grow its activities and bring its low-fare model to New Zealand’s regions. “When Jetstar brought low fares to New Zealand’s key routes six years ago it completely transformed the market in terms of value and now we’ll do the same for regional New Zealand,” he said.
These new regional destinations will connect with the broader Qantas Group network, including both Qantas and Jetstar flying across the Tasman, and will therefore make these parts of New Zealand more accessible to international travellers.
The new services, which remain subject to regulatory approval, will be branded, marketed and managed by Jetstar, but 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.