Jetstar committed to NZ

Jetstar says it remains committed to New Zealand amid speculation its parent Qantas is set to announce it will axe thousands of jobs when it releases its financial results on Thursday.

Jetstar chief executive for Australia and New Zealand, David Hall, said he could not comment on reports of job losses or the financial plight of Qantas, but his airline was performing well in New Zealand.

"There's a lot of speculation of the eve of any announcement and I'm not going to comment on it but we're very pleased with our business here. We're certainly in it for the long haul, we're committed to the market and we're always looking for growth," Hall said.

The airline launched domestic operations here in June 2009, flying main trunk routes in competition to Air New Zealand, after starting trans-Tasman services four years earlier.

"We're in a blackout period at the moment [due to the pending release of financial results] but for the year ended June 30 (2013) we carried over 1.8 million customers and we're seeing comparable numbers this year," Hall said.

New Zealand was an important part of Jetstar's Australasian operations and the strong economy in this country would further stimulate demand, he said.

While Jetstar's New Zealand financial performance is not specified in Qantas' results, the airline has said previously it breaks even or is close to breaking even in this country.

On Thursday Qantas is expected to announce a A$300 million loss for the past six months and up to A$2 billion in cost savings which could mean 3000 job losses.

The airline suffers high legacy labour costs, has had its lucrative domestic corporate market eroded by Virgin Australia, just on 25 per cent owned by Air New Zealand. Qantas has yet to enjoy substantial benefits from its partnership with Emirates, which was set up last year to stem large losses the Australian airline has suffered on its long haul routes.

Qantas pulled out of flying from Auckland to Los Angeles in 2012 as part of an early cost cutting drive but its own trans-Tasman services are an important part of its network and paid a big dividend last year.

Jetconnect, a New Zealand-based operation was set up with lower labour costs and paid Qantas a $NZ156 million dividend.

Jetstar will tomorrow launch Boeing 787 Dreamliner services between Auckland and Melbourne, three days a week for a month.

By Grant Bradley of the NZ Herald

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