Jetstar keen to run night flights

Low-fare airline Jetstar plans to add two new aircraft to its Queenstown fleet.

"We will be 20% of the market.

"We are here for the long term," Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive officer David Hall told the Queenstown Times yesterday.

Mr Hall made the comment before delivering his keynote speech at the New Zealand Airports Conference 2010 in Queenstown, adding he was "absolutely" in favour of operating Jetstar flights at night from Queenstown Airport.

"We just need to work with the airport authority to have the infrastructure in place to do that," he said.

The airport has permission to fly until 10pm under current zoning rules.

Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) wants to expand noise boundaries and permit night flights to arrive in Queenstown between 10pm and midnight.

Construction of new runway lights is expected to begin over the summer.

Mr Hall declined to give details on Jetstar's intended operating hours in Queenstown, but said it was, "dependent on the market".

Jetstar's rival, Air New Zealand, was criticised last month by QAC for opposing night flights in an effort to "stymie" competition at a three-day hearing before the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Mr Hall said he could not speak for Air NZ's actions, but said: "We'll invest in the right areas and we are very keen to grow our market ...

It's up to the other competitors what they do."

Mr Hall said Jetstar's ambitions to take a 20% share of the domestic air travel market in this country would be strongly supported by the addition of two new A320 aircraft, bringing the total Queenstown fleet to eight aircraft in 2011.

"More aircraft means more seats and a growth in employment as well."

He said a strong constructive dialogue between Jetstar and QAC would boost tourism to Queenstown.

In September, Jetstar announced that individual passengers travelling without baggage would be able to receive their boarding pass via cellphone.

That service, Mr Hall said, would be available to multiple passengers, with baggage, by the end of the year.

Looking further ahead, Mr Hall said Jetstar would boost its network flight frequencies by 50% before next year's Rugby World Cup, saying the company would continue to "aggressively" expand operations.

"The investment we've made is testament to a long-term commitment in Queenstown and a testament to keep the market very competitive."


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