04 June 2020

Jetstar Starts Spool Up

A restart of Jetstar's New Zealand domestic operation looks to be imminent with pilots preparing to return to work and cut-price airfares on sale from July 1. Jetstar's operations ground to a halt at the same time its parent company Qantas suspended all international flights in late March due to fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. Both airlines have largely been in hibernation since then with the majority of their 30,000 staff stood down. Jetstar now appears to be preparing for a return to New Zealand skies with fares from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin available from July 1, including Auckland to Wellington for as little as $34. A Jetstar spokeswoman on Wednesday said: "We’re monitoring demand on domestic New Zealand routes and working through the New Zealand in-flight requirements, and will have an update soon." New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) president Andrew Ridling said it understood that the airline was "preparing a pathway back to its domestic operations. Pilots are now undertaking recurrent training for this event," Ridling said. "We are expecting more information from Jetstar imminently. “ E tū union has 170 members employed at Jetstar while NZALPA has 85 pilots members at Jetstar. Dunedin Airport chief executive Richard Roberts said it had been in discussions with Jetstar about domestic services returning but did not know when those would resume or what routes and schedules the airline would operate. "We would welcome them back, as I'm sure any airport would, with open arms," Roberts said. Jetstar flew daily flights between Auckland and Dunedin before the Covid-19 outbreak, he said. A Queenstown Airport spokeswoman said: "We look forward to Jetstar recommencing domestic services at Queenstown Airport." On Monday Cabinet will assess whether the country should enter Alert Level 1, and there's a possibility a move down from level 2 could happen a few days later. At Alert Level 1 physical distancing will no longer be required on public transport and planes. Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand executive director Justin Tighe-Umbers said operating flights with normal passenger loads was particularly important for low cost carriers such as Jetstar to resume flights. Jetstar's spokeswoman said due to the Australian and New Zealand government’s international travel restrictions, it had cancelled trans-Tasman flights up until the end of June, she said. It was reviewing its trans-Tasman operations and further cancellations beyond the end of June were likely, she said. "We will update customers should their flights be impacted." 

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