06 July 2020

Jetstar Restarts

Some Jetstar customers say their flights have been changed, disrupting their school holiday plans. One customer’s direct flight from Wellington to Queenstown on Thursday was redirected to include a 4.5 hour stopover in Auckland without notice, according to a post on the company’s Facebook page. “We're losing a day in [Queenstown] for a day in Auckland airport,” the customer wrote. However, a Jetstar spokesperson said its on-time performance had been close to 100 per cent. “Not only have we operated all scheduled flights, but have done so in a punctual manner.” Jetstar resumed domestic flights on Wednesday, with more than 2000 passengers booked onto scheduled flights on that day. The airline plans to operate 75 return flights per week to five destinations across the country including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. The majority of flights were operating between Auckland and Wellington followed by Auckland to Christchurch, Auckland to Queenstown, Christchurch to Wellington, and Auckland to Dunedin. This is around 60 per cent of the airline’s normal domestic schedule. “Our return to the skies will get more people out into communities that rely on tourism and bring a much-needed boost to local businesses,” Jetstar Group chief executive Gareth Evans said. “It also means more of our New Zealand team members are back at work, which is great news.” The airline spokesperson said thousands of bookings have been reviewed, changed or cancelled on many routes in recent times due to travel restrictions, demand and operational constraints, as well as the various barriers linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the weeks leading up to take off, some customers – those booked on the remaining 40 per cent – had their flights cancelled. Another customer, Michelle Dineen, booked flights on June 1 for a family trip to Queenstown in the upcoming school holidays. Four days after completing the booking, their flights were cancelled. “We had saved for a while and after a death in the family this was a needed break. The July holidays were the only time we could go. We had booked time off work too.” Dineen said an email sent by the airline explained that “uncertain times” forced the cancellation. She said she wasn’t given the option of applying for a refund, instead only receiving a credit. A Jetstar spokesperson was looking into Dineen’s case history to see if the circumstances allow a refund. They noted those on the spill over flights were contacted and offered a range of options. “Depending on the circumstances this may include an alternative flight at no additional charge or a refund if no alternative flight is available within three hours.” Having booked a rental car and motorhome as well as accommodation around Queenstown and the greater Otago region, Dineen had to make an “embarrassing” call to cancel. “Without the refund (close to $900) we couldn't rebook on Air New Zealand and so were forced to cancel everything. “It was so sad and embarrassing to ring up to cancel. These places needed us and our money,” she said. Prior to resuming domestic flights, Jetstar offered discounted fares. Flights from Auckland to Wellington and Auckland to Christchurch went on sale for as little as $21. Flights from Christchurch to Wellington were listed for $32. More than 15,000 bookings were made in the first 24-hours of flights going on sale.On Thursday, the airline launched its Fare Credit scheme, allowing customers to cancel bookings and receive a credit up until airport check-in opens. The scheme is available as an added expense when booking. Additional domestic routes are likely to be added in the coming months, provided demand is there.

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