Jetstar expands Queenstown service

An extra 37,000 passengers a year will fly directly from Australia to Queenstown in Jetstar's latest expansion of its New Zealand operations.

The Qantas subsidiary also announced yesterday all flights between Christchurch and Queenstown are to be "suspended" due to a lack of patronage and the company had no immediate plans to increase flights to Dunedin.

"I don't think [Dunedin] has been overlooked," Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive David Hall, of Melbourne, told the Otago Daily Times from Auckland yesterday.

"We've got a good frequency there; daily service. We've carried over 100,000 and that will continue to grow this year.

"A little over a year, it's performing well and we'll put the capacity where the demand is."

Mr Hall said the airline's plan was to increase the frequency of flights on the main trunk routes because the demand was there.

Asked what Dunedin could do to encourage demand, Mr Hall said Jetstar launched its Dunedin-Auckland service with 45% capacity in July last year.

"How much capacity can the market absorb?

There's good infrastructure there, good community there. We watch that market and if the demand is there we will continue to grow."

Queenstown benefited most from yesterday's announcement, with an additional Queenstown-Melbourne service and an extra Queenstown-Sydney weekly service increasing Jetstar's international services into the resort to seven a week from November 15.

"It's really in response to the very strong market support we've had for low fares, and that gives us confidence to continue to invest, and we have a long-term commitment to the market," Mr Hall said.

"Melbourne grows from three to four on a Saturday, so plugs into that weekend, and similarly Sydney grows from two to three, so although you lose the Christchurch-Queenstown domestic numbers, what you actually get are higher-yield, higher-value international tourists that would be good in many regards."

The new schedule delivers 131,000 extra seats into Christchurch.

However, due to direct access to Queenstown and the new Wellington service, customers now found it easier to fly to Queenstown directly than via Christchurch, he said.

Jetstar will "suspend" its five weekly services between Christchurch and Queenstown from November 14 and capacity has been redeployed around the network.

Jetstar will also reduce services between Christchurch and the Gold Coast and Melbourne by one flight per week, continuing to provide three services a week and daily flights respectively.

Taking flight
• More direct services from Sydney and Melbourne to Queenstown.
• Watching brief on demand for Dunedin services.
• Queenstown-Christchurch service axed on November 14.
• Services between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to grow by 600,000 seats a year.
• NZ-based fleet to increase from eight to nine Airbus A320 aircraft on November 15.
• More than 50 NZ jobs created for pilots, cabin crew and ground crew for ninth aircraft.

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