Jetstar has announced it is launching a regional service in New Zealand. While the actual destinations to be serviced haven’t been announced, Jetstar have advised they are looking at Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier and Palmerston North in the North Island and Nelson and Invercargill in the South Island, Confirmation of the new routes is expected by September, with initial operations to commence in December.
While the aircraft will be Jetstar branded, the service is to be managed by Qantas Link, with the aircraft operations being provided by Qantas subsidiary Eastern Australian Airlines. Eastern Australian Airlines will be utilising five Q300 turbo-prop aircraft. Four of the aircraft are currently in storage at Tamworth, after being withdrawn from service last year, It is not clear where the fifth aircraft will be sourced from.
In comparison, Air NZ operates on regional routes with a fleet consisting of Beechcraft 1900Ds, ATR 72, and Bombardier Q300s. The Beechcraft aircraft are planned to be withdrawn as part of a plan to move to larger aircraft.
For many regional areas of New Zealand it will provide a competitor to Air New Zealand, There have long been complaints by residents of some areas that Air New Zealand have been charging over the top prices,
Jetstar Group CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka, said “Jetstar wants to bring real competition and stimulate regional passenger growth,”
“When we first started operations in New Zealand, domestic fares across the country dropped by around 40 per cent, and we expect fares will drop considerably on the regional routes where we’ll operate.
While it does bring competition, the relatively small fleet size may mean the benefits of connecting flights are not fully realised, as Jetstar will only be able to provide a limited frequency service on some of the routes. It will be interesting to see how Air New Zealand responds to this new level of competition.