13 June 2013

Less WLG-ZQN flights

Just days after Air New Zealand announced it would boost capacity by 44% on its Queenstown-Wellington service, rival Jetstar says it will suspend its year-round service on the same route from September 1. The Melbourne-based Qantas subsidiary will instead increase flights between Auckland and Christchurch from September as it realigns its New Zealand schedule to meet demand. The airline's Australia and New Zealand chief executive David Hall said both Queenstown and Wellington remained key destinations and Jetstar would continue to seek opportunities in both markets. Jetstar began its daily Queenstown-Wellington services in December 2011, then reduced services to four times a week earlier this year. Monday's announcement by Air New Zealand of increased capacity from July to mid-October will mostly be achieved through upgrading services from the 68-seat ATR turboprop aircraft to 133-seat Boeing 737-300 jets. ''The Wellington to Queenstown route is extremely popular for us, particularly in the peak summer and winter seasons,'' an Air NZ spokeswoman said. ''Air New Zealand is committed to growing the route [and it is] certainly financially viable year-round from Air New Zealand's perspective.'' A Jetstar spokesman said its suspension did not have anything to do with activities of competitors. Queenstown Airport chief executive Scott Paterson said yesterday although Jetstar's suspension was disappointing, the resort would continue to be accessible to the capital with up to 17 Queenstown-Wellington weekly flights until the end of August and Air NZ's capacity increase. ''Jetstar recently added extra capacity on its Auckland-Queenstown route and increased its transtasman schedule to four weekly flights from Melbourne and three from Sydney - a 28% increase in capacity,'' Mr Paterson said. ''This has had an immediate result with Queenstown Airport's international passenger figures growing by 38% in May, versus the same period last year, a climb driven by additional Jetstar transtasman routes.'' All Jetstar passengers booked on the Queenstown-Wellington service from September 1 will receive a full refund and an additional $100 compensation voucher.

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