Jetstar’s expansion into regional New Zealand will kick off on December 1 with flights from Auckland to Napier and Nelson.
The inaugural two routes will be followed by New Plymouth-Auckland, Palmerston North-Auckland and Nelson-Wellington from February 1 2016, Jetstar said on Monday.
Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive David Hall announced the new services in Wellington on Monday.
“The feedback we’ve received from local councils, airports, economic agencies, businesses, and the tourism and travel trade has been invaluable in helping us to choose our first four destinations,” Hall said in a statement.
“We believe the routes we’ve announced today offer the strongest opportunities to grow the market and make a real difference to local economies and locals’ wallets, encouraging more travel and saving people money when they fly.”
Jetstar launched plans to expand into regional NZ with Dash 8-Q300 turboprops in June. The aircraft will be operated by Qantas-owned Eastern Australia Airlines for Jetstar.
In terms of schedule, Jetstar said aircraft and crew would be positioned overnight at each of its new destinations, meaning the first flight each day would take off from those regional ports.
The airline planned to operate 27 flights a week on the Nelson-Auckland, Napier-Auckland, New Plymouth-Auckland and Palmerston North-Auckland routes, and 21 flights a week between Nelson and Wellington.
Jetstar said its expansion into regional NZ would add about 670,000 extra seats into the local market, on top of its 2.6 million seats flown by its fleet of nine Airbus A320 jets.
The additional capacity comes on top of an estimated eight per cent growth in available seats from Air NZ in the coming year.
Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon said recently he was confident his airline would be able to stimulate the market to absorb the eight per cent seat growth on its domestic network even with the upcoming entry of Jetstar, as well as other smaller carriers, on regional routes.
Luxon said at Air NZ’s full year results presentation on August 26 the arrival of Jetstar with its five Q300s “isn’t something we should get too freaked out about”.
“I really feel very comfortable in our ability to compete there,” Luxon said.
“We just need to keep it in perspective. I think it has been a bit overblown to be really honest. From a cost advantage point of view we have a huge advantage over Jetstar coming into that market.”