01 September 2015

Regional reaction to the new Jetstar services - The Losers


Hamilton and Rotorua have lost a bid to get Jetstar into their airports, but the region's leaders have said they will continue trying to attract the airline. Jetstar unveiled a new regional network in New Zealand, launching low fares on five routes between Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Auckland and Wellington. Mayor of Hamilton, Julie Hardaker, said while she was "really disappointed" in the announcement, council would continue to make a case for the airline to include Hamilton in future plans. "They indicated from day one they were very keen to expand to regional New Zealand and they would be starting with four but the intention was to increase that number."... Hardaker said her view was Jetstar needed to choose a route network that would be sustainable. "It also seems to me that being about one hour's drive from Auckland Airport will have also been a factor in their decision, as we know locals do travel to Auckland for domestic flights." Hall said Jetstar would continue talks with stakeholders in Hamilton, Rotorua, Invercargill and Tauranga "because they've all expressed a desire for airline competition"... New Zealand-owned Kiwi Regional Airlines has restated its support for regional direct flights in the wake of Jetstar's announcement. "We are pleased that fliers from these centres now have more choice when connecting with Auckland and Wellington, but we note that still none of the big airlines are offering region to region direct flights, like Kiwi is," chief executive Ewan Wilson said. Wilson said that his company's first aircraft, which arrives tomorrow in Hamilton from Europe, includes both Hamilton and Queenstown in its first route.


Invercargill has missed out on being one of Jetstar's new regional destinations but the budget airline says proximity to Queenstown and Dunedin was not a factor... The low-fare airline announced in June they would consider Invercargill, Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North and Nelson as potential destinations. Jetstar NZ boss Grant Kerr promised to keep Invercargill under consideration as a possible future destination. "We've always said this is the initial phase ... we're really keen to continue engaging with all the regions, particularly the ones which missed out this time," he said. "Some of the biggest supporters [of the new destinations] were from Southland, social media just went crazy." Jetstar would continue to have an open dialogue with Invercargill Airport, but there was no timeline for any future announcements, he said. Despite Jetstar's service already being offered from Queenstown and Dunedin airports, the fact that Southlanders were able to drive to those airports to fly Jetstar did not have an impact on the decision. "It was important for us the growth was right there at the start, it's not about us just coming in and taking a part of the pie." The new destinations would be closely monitored before any new regional routes were considered. "I think there's still benefit for the Southland region from our announcements today, and last week with the announcement we'll soon be flying Wellington to Dunedin," he said. Some southern leaders said they were disappointed Invercargill was not a new destination. Invercargill City Mayor Tim Shadbolt said while Invercargill had been left out in the final decision, it was great to have made the shortlist. "It's not as though our hopes and dreams have been dashed. "We've been knocked back but if we take it gracefully hopefully we'll be on the shortlist next time, a bit like being chosen for the All Blacks." Southland District Mayor Gary Tong said he was not involved in the consultation with Jetstar, and it was disappointing they had chosen not to come here. He was hopeful Jetstar would consider Invercargill again. "There are certainly the numbers [of people] coming south." Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson said although it was disappointing Jetstar would not be coming to Invercargill right now, other airlines might be interested. "Visitor numbers look good for the next few months ... there may be other airlines who want to fly into our region." Jetstar had made a commercial decision to support smaller regions than Southland, he said. "Luckily we've got Air New Zealand, and they're very good to us, which we've seen last week in a reduction of fares." Casson said the close proximity of two existing international airports at Dunedin and Queenstown was unique in the New Zealand market and that factor could have counted against a decision in favour of Invercargill.... Jetstar said the move would bring "much-needed" competition and more affordable fares to those outside the country's main centres. "We'll keep talking with stakeholders in Hamilton, Rotorua, Invercargill and Tauranga because they've all expressed a desire for airline competition and they support Jetstar's model of stimulating market growth through lower fares," Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive David Hall said. Southlanders took to social media following the initial short-list announcement to express their excitement at the prospect of cheaper flights. Southern politicians also got on board and backed Invercargill as a potential destination.


Rotorua has missed out on being part of Jetstar's regional network. The airline announced this morning they will be adding Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North to their regional destinations. Chief executive of Jetstar Australia and New Zealand, David Hall, made the announcement in Wellington. He was joined by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Transport Minister Simon Bridges. "Today we're delivering on our commitment to bring low fares and increased competition to communities around the country," Mr Hall said. Rotorua Airport chief executive, Nicole Brewer said Rotorua will continue to work closely with Jetstar - and long-term partner Air New Zealand - to explore these future opportunities. The Rotorua bid was led by Rotorua Airport, alongside Rotorua Lakes Council, Destination Rotorua and Grow Rotorua, with input from stakeholders such as the Chamber of Commerce and various business and industry sectors. Ms Brewer, said Rotorua's proposal focused on a robust business case with sustainable growth opportunities for both the region and the airline. "From the beginning of the selection process, we indicated that the introduction of any airline to Rotorua Airport would have to present sustainable growth opportunities for everyone involved. "While we would have been pleased to join Jetstar's network this year, we are continuing to focus on areas of long-term growth. For Rotorua, this means increased capacity, as well as encouraging more travellers to connect via air - rather than road - to and from Auckland, and a direct link to Queenstown. "This Jetstar process has provided us with an important opportunity to progress our discussions with them, and highlight potential areas which were not originally on the radar, for example, options around delivering a Queenstown link. "Jetstar have reiterated this morning that they would like to continue discussions with us, particularly around some of the opportunities that we highlighted in our proposal. Our discussions with them do not finish here." In February, Air New Zealand introduced the Q300 aircraft twice-daily on the Auckland-Rotorua return route, providing an additional 31 seats per flight - the equivalent of a 30 per cent increase in passenger capacity and 16,000 additional seats per year. "The increased capacity offered by Air New Zealand on the Rotorua-Auckland flights has been particularly beneficial for our business travellers as it is an efficient, cost-effective option. Similarly, our leisure travellers have also taken advantage of the cheaper fares and ease of getting to and from Auckland with these flights." Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said while it was disappointing Rotorua has not been selected as one of Jetstar's first four regional destinations, Rotorua Airport and Air New Zealand were continuing to focus on increasing both international and domestic air travellers to and from Auckland and the South Island, with Queenstown remaining a particular focus. "One aim of the Rotorua 2030 vision is to increase tourism expenditure to $1 billion per annum and we are on track for that. Increased capacity and flight connectivity are critical for accommodating growing year-on-year demand and we will continue to focus on the Auckland and Queenstown links in particular, to offer travellers the best possible routes and costs."


Western Bay of Plenty leaders are disappointed Tauranga has not been named as one of the regional cities where Jetstar flights are being introduced. Jetstar announced yesterday it would be introducing services into regional New Zealand, with the destinations being Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth and Palmerston North. Neither Tauranga nor Rotorua were selected. Jetstar said the company saw the best opportunities for growth in the cities it selected. Head of Jetstar New Zealand Grant Kerr said although Tauranga was not on its initial list the company would continue to talk to Tauranga Airport and stakeholders in the region about future opportunities. "We understand that you are a very fast growing region and see the potential for the region," he said. "We need to make sure when we do go into a region it is sustainable. [We] need to start in a position that is appropriate for the five aircraft we are bringing into the country," he said. Mr Kerr said the company would continue to look into introducing the services in the near future. Transport Minister Simon Bridges said yesterday's announcement from Jetstar was just one of a number of new regional air services that would be announced . "These new services are a real vote of confidence in our aviation sector and the future prospects of regional New Zealand." Mr Bridges said he had expressed his disappointment to Jetstar over Tauranga missing out but it was only a matter of time before a service was offered in the Bay of Plenty. Tauranga Airport manager Ray Dumble said the decision was disappointing. "It would have been a great opportunity for Tauranga. But I have just spoken with Jetstar New Zealand and they want to carry on the conversation with us and there will be more activity next year. "It's not a no, it's just a timing thing." Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby was confident the city was still being considered. "All is not lost. We are still on their radar screen. "The reality is they only have five aircraft at the moment and they will look to expand in other regional centres in New Zealand." Mr Crosby said Jetstar knew Tauranga was a good proposition for the company in two ways. "We have the lowest landing fees for that type of aircraft for the centres they are looking at and we have growth. Priority One chief executive Andrew Coker said Tauranga and the wider Western Bay of Plenty had a growing population, employment and economic growth, so the area had a compelling business case for Jetstar to consider.

Timaru (ever hopeful!)

Jetstar will not fly to Timaru any time soon. The Qantas-owned passenger airline announced on Monday it would open routes to Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North. Jetstar will offer flights from all the announced destinations to Auckland, as well as flights from Nelson to Wellington. Timaru did not make the low-cost airline's list of contenders released in June. Waitaki MP and parliamentary private secretary for tourism Jacqui Dean suggested at the time Timaru could eventually make Jetstar's list if the new routes proved profitable. Air New Zealand plans to bring 50-seat aeroplanes to Timaru from 2016, instead of the 19-seat aircraft currently flying the route.

1 comment:

  1. I would suggest the people of Timaru learn to walk before they run.

    The numbers are erratic on the current WLG-TIU Eagle Airways service.

    The Q300 introduction will offer lower fares and better overall customer offering being quieter, offering cabin service and refitted with a brand new interior.

    Currently the cost can be prohibitive, the Q300 will open South Canterbury to more leisure and tourist traffic, a better standard and higher chance of last min seating at peak times for business customers.

    Timaru will really need to get in behind and support the direct air link to the north or risk losing it all together.