Extra Jetstar flights in July

Jetstar will add an extra five flights, or 1600 seats, between Sydney and Queenstown in July, in addition to more than 15,000 seats to be added between Australia and the resort in July and August, as announced last month.

The rise means the low-cost airline and subsidiary of Qantas will fly Australian and long-haul tourists six times a week into Queenstown throughout July when both Coronet Peak and the Remarkables ski areas will be fully operational.

The winter capacity boosts are the first schedule increase for Jetstar and the resort since its Melbourne-Queenstown and Sydney-Queenstown services permanently stepped up a flight each to four flights and three flights a week respectively from November 12.

Jetstar New Zealand head Grant Kerr, of Auckland, said the increases reflected the growing appetite among Australians for direct flights to their destinations, when he visited Queenstown for a Tourism Industry Association engagement last week.

''The winter flights underscore the importance of Queenstown and the commitment for us to New Zealand,'' Mr Kerr said.

''We've been in the country five years domestically, nine years across the Tasman and this year celebrating 10 years for the entire business.''

Mr Kerr said the difference between a low-cost airline and a full-value airline was people deciding how to spend their budget differently.

''They say, 'I've got a pot of money to spend. Do I want to spend a lot of that on my air fares and have less to spend in the destination?'.

''We know people who travel on us, the majority of their spend is in their destination, so that money sticks in their destination. We know the value we have, so by putting extra flights in creates the opportunity for anybody to be able to afford to fly.''

Mr Kerr said the airline would adjust capacity, up or down, depending on demand.

Adjustments came last year when Jetstar maintained up to 16 Auckland-Queenstown flights a week, but dropped Wellington-Queenstown and Christchurch-Queenstown services.

Those suspensions kept the airport's domestic passenger numbers flat throughout 2013 and they finished 0.8% down compared with 2012.

Jetstar had no plans to reconnect the capital and Garden City with Queenstown, but the carrier was always seeking opportunities to expand markets, Mr Kerr said.

The airline maintains its support for evening flights at Queenstown Airport and the resort would benefit from the growth in passenger numbers, he said.

''From a low-cost airline point of view, it's important to utilise our aircraft as much as we can, that's how we keep costs down, so any added usability we can get from the destinations we fly to is key,'' Mr Kerr said.

Queenstown Airport Corporation chief executive Scott Paterson said the outlook for the winter season was looking ''extremely positive'' and transtasman flights were up 25% on last winter.

''We're absolutely delighted with the strong support shown by Qantas, Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia and Jetstar.''

Mr Paterson said.

''We have a record 50 direct transtasman flights on average arriving each week this winter - up 10 a week on last year - as well as larger aircraft, with more seat capacity being used.''

 


More capacity

Queenstown winter flight schedule increases include:

• Qantas stepping up its three Sydney-Queenstown flights per week to daily flights between July 4 and October 30. It will also operate a weekly Brisbane-Queenstown service on Saturdays from June 28 to September 27.

• Alliance partners Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia adding 40,000 seats to and from Queenstown between July and September. Transtasman seat capacity to Queenstown will increase more than 12% with up to five additional alliance services per week between Queenstown and Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

• Air New Zealand increasing domestic capacity by 11% from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch by upgrading to larger A320 aircraft on a number of existing services.

• Jetstar adding 15,000 seats between Australia and Queenstown in July and August. Melbourne-Queenstown services will rise from four times a week to daily and Sydney-Queenstown will move from three to five flights per week.