Four new regional destinations will be introduced to the Jetstar Airways network in New Zealand after the low-fare carrier revealed details of its regional route development study supported by the introduction of five Bombardier Dash 8-Q300 turboprops into its fleet. The airline will introduce Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North to its network starting from December 1, 2015, bringing low fare competition to many monopoly domestic routes outside the country’s main centres.
Jetstar will link Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North to Auckland as well as introducing flights between Nelson and Wellington. The Nelson-Auckland and Napier-Auckland flights will take off from the beginning of December 2015, in time for the busy tourism season in both popular holiday destinations, while the New Plymouth-Auckland, Palmerston North-Auckland and Nelson-Wellington flights will follow early next year, with services scheduled to begin from February 1, 2016. The city pair markets will be served with up to 27 weekly flights.
The airline first announced plans for a regional network in June this year and has been considering proposals from locations across the country for its initial expansion. Alongside the selected destinations it is understood to have also studied introducing flights to Hamilton and Rotorua in the North Island and Invercargill in the South Island.
“In the past several weeks our New Zealand management team has travelled to eight regional centres and received a warm welcome and very positive support in every city we’ve visited,” confirmed David Hall, chief executive officer, Jetstar Australia and New Zealand. “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.”
“We believe the routes we’ve announced today offer the strongest opportunities to grow the market and make a real difference to local economies and locals’ wallets, encouraging more travel and saving people money when they fly,” he added.
These initial regional services are likely to act as a platform for further expansion into smaller New Zealand markets and Grant Kerr, head of Jetstar New Zealand said these five routes would build a strong base for considering more regional destinations.
“On our visits throughout the country the message was loud and clear that regional Kiwis want Jetstar’s entry to their markets to be sustainable because they’ve seen other airlines come and go. So that’s what we’re doing; building a strong base with our initial destinations so we can look at other opportunities in the future,” he said.
Jetstar’s regional network will add more than 670,000 new seats a year to the domestic market, a significant increase on the airline’s current domestic jet seat capacity of over 2.6 million seats annually. First flights each day will take off from regional ports, with crew and aircraft positioned overnight in each of the new destinations.
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 250 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.