New Zealand’s five biggest regional ports are losing their gateway to low fares.
Jetstar has announced that they will pull the plug on its regional New Zealand flights using a fleet of five Dash-8/Q300 aircraft. Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North will see Jetstar’s props depart for the final time in late November.
Jetstar has been operating up to 130 return services per week on these vital regional ports, but losses have plagued the routes with Air New Zealand (their main competitor) continuing to lower prices. Which has lead Jetstar to continuing to make losses.
The decision was “based on the operation continuing to be loss making combined with higher costs and a softening of the regional travel market,”
“We’re immensely proud of what our regional team has achieved to help Kiwis see more of their country for less. Last year 25 percent of our regional customers paid less than $50 for their flight and 75 percent paid under $100.” Jetstar chief executive Gareth Evans said.
New Zealand’s regional network is expected to face many upcoming challenges, with a softening demand and fuel prices continue to sky-rocket. Affected passengers are being given options, including a full refund for flights after November 30th. The airline will continue to operate the domestic network using their A320 fleet. These services are between Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin and Queenstown.
Jetstar began operating in regional New Zealand in December 2015, bringing lower than ever prices for passengers. Five Q300 aircraft were flown ‘across the ditch’ from Australia, with the aircraft previously operating for Jetstar’s parent company, Qantas. The Jetstar-branded regional services, have been marketed and managed by Jetstar, and are operated by QantasLink. Under this arrangement, Qantas-owned Eastern Australia Airlines, which has operated Q300 aircraft in Australia for QantasLink for over 15 years, have managed the aircraft operations.
Nelson Airport has recently opened part of their new terminal building, but are unfazed by Jetstar’s announcement.
Nelson Airport chief executive Rob Evans said it was disappointing to see Jetstar leave Nelson, as it had helped the airport enjoy “a wonderful period of growth thanks to their services”.
The decision was also not expected to affect the development of Nelson Airport’s new terminal, which is scheduled to open fully on October 19. Evans said the decision to upgrade had been made well before Jetstar arrived.
“The old terminal was designed to cater for 500,000 passengers per year and even before Jetstar, Nelson Airport was processing more than 750,000 passengers per year.”
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Image © Jetstar