Although Jetstar has announced that this is currently only a “proposal”, the airline is already offering refunds to customers that booked a regional New Zealand domestic flight for travel from December 2019. Tickets beyond 30 November have been withdrawn from sale. The airline has also begun consulting with around 70 affected employees, including pilots and cabin crew.
Jetstar began flying to four regional New Zealand centres in 2015, using a fleet of five 50-seater Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 aircraft operated by QantasLink. Regional routes served by Jetstar include flights from Auckland to New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North and Nelson, and Wellington to Nelson. The withdrawal of Jetstar will leave Air New Zealand with a monopoly on all five of these routes except Wellington-Nelson, which Sounds Air also flies.
Jetstar’s regional New Zealand services brought much-needed price competition to the New Zealand domestic market and has helped significantly to bring down airfares. Jetstar regional flights within New Zealand start at just $29 one-way. Air New Zealand has largely tried to compete with Jetstar, and currently offers domestic fares as low as $39 one-way, although it remains to be seen whether such pricing will continue on regional routes once Jetstar exits the market.
Jetstar’s domestic A320 jet services within New Zealand will continue. Jetstar operates on most of the major domestic trunk routes in New Zealand including Auckland-Wellington, Auckland-Queenstown and Christchurch-Auckland.
Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans said that while he understood the proposal would be disappointing for the affected New Zealand regional centres, he was proud of the low fares Jetstar has been able to bring to the market over the past four years.
“We have given it a real go”, Evans said. “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.”
Qantas had flagged Jetstar’s regional New Zealand operations as loss-making in the recent full-year results, saying last month that the services were under review. A final decision will be made before the end of October.
Qantas no longer relies on Jetstar in New Zealand to feed its trans-Tasman flights, thanks to its codeshare agreement with Air New Zealand.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Jetstar NZ abandons regional routes
Jetstar withdraws from China
Jetstar will also terminate its only route to China, with the end of Melbourne-Zhengzhou services from early December 2019. Jetstar currently flies to Zhengzhou twice per week using Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners. This flight is sold by Jetstar Airways on behalf of Australia Comfort Travel Group, which offers holiday packages directly to Chinese tourists. The Melbourne-Zhengzhou route commenced in December 2017.
There are dozens of air routes between Australia and China that are operated by Chinese carriers. But Jetstar’s withdrawal from Zhengzhou leaves Qantas’ Sydney-Beijing and Sydney-Shanghai flights as the only routes between Australia and mainland China served by an Australian airline.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Jetstar cuts MEL-CGO route