Jetstar is looking to axe its regional services in New Zealand if they continue to run at a loss.
The airline began flying to the regional centres in December 2015 and currently offers up to 130 return services a week during the peak season across five routes – Auckland and Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North and flights between Nelson and Wellington.
Gareth Evans, Jetstar’s chief executive officer, said the proposal to withdraw the airline’s regional flying was based on the operation continuing to be loss-making combined with higher costs and a softening of the regional travel market.
“The New Zealand regional market is facing some headwinds, with softer demand and higher fuel costs and we don’t see the outlook changing any time soon. As a result, we’re announcing a proposal today to end our regional services, with the final flights on 30 November this year,” evens said.
“We have given it a real go. However, despite four years of hard work, including becoming the most on-time of the two major regional airlines and having high customer satisfaction, our regional network continues to be loss-making.
“We understand there will be disappointment in regional centres at today’s announcement.
“Jetstar brought low fares and competition to the regions and we’ve carried more than 1.3 million passengers since these services began in 2015.
“We’re immensely proud of what our regional team has achieved to help Kiwis see more of their country for less. Last year 25 per cent of our regional customers paid less than $50 for their flight and 75 per cent paid under $100.
“Our regional customers have been very loyal and we’d like to thank them, and all our regional stakeholders including airports, local councils, businesses and tourism organisations, for their support.”
Jetstar will continue to offer up to 270 domestic jet services a week on its jet services between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown and up to 100 international flights a week on the Tasman and to Rarotonga.
“We are fully committed to our domestic jet services. It’s business as usual for the rest of our New Zealand operation.
“From the end of October, we’re doubling our Queenstown to Wellington services to six per week and we’ll continue to look at opportunities for our domestic trunk routes and international flying,” said Evans.
The airline will today begin a consultation process with about 70 affected employees on the proposal and expected to announce a final decision before the end of October.
Alternative employment options would be available for all affected Jetstar regional employees – made up chiefly of pilots and cabin crew – across Jetstar and Qantas Group businesses in New Zealand and Australia.
Given the uncertainty of turboprop services beyond 30 November 2019, Jetstar customers booked on regional services after this date will be offered options including a full refund.