A local family who have used Jetstar to fly in and out of Nelson about 30 times are frustrated with the airline’s proposal to pull out of the regions.
Anna Chitty and her family fly overseas regularly and she says with international flight costs being high, they try to make use of cheap domestic flights wherever possible.
She says she has experienced numerous flight cancellations and mechanical issues with Air New Zealand and is frustrated they are now “stuck with them” after barely ever having an issue with Jetstar.
Jetstar’s CEO Gareth Evans says the proposal to withdraw the airline’s regional flying was based on flights continuing to be loss-making, combined with higher costs and a softening of the regional travel market.
Jetstar plans to end flights to Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North after November 30.
Air New Zealand was quick to announce that they would offer Jetstar customers discount fares for their existing bookings, saying affected customers would be able to purchase an Air New Zealand seat-only fare for the same route on the same day (schedule permitting) for no more than $50 each way.
However, Anna says it hasn’t been that easy trying to rebook her flights for December/January.
“Jetstar have been great processing the refund and they’ve been in touch to let me know the refund will be in my account within 10 working days. I’m happy with that.
“The Jetstar flights cost me $270 for 5 people and 4 pieces of luggage. I now had to rebook with Air NZ for $525 and that’s only with 3 pieces of luggage.
She says she first contacted Air New Zealand about their offer on Wednesday but as of Monday still hadn’t had a response
“I’ve also rung the call centre and they said they can’t do anything about this offer… I haven’t even received an email saying that my request will be processed, and someone will be in touch.
Nelson Airport CEO Rob Evans says Jetstar’s decision was a “disappointing” day for Nelson and the New Zealand’s aviation industry generally.
“Along with our other airlines, Jetstar brought a competitive edge to air links in regional centres, which gave a new type of passenger the opportunity to fly for the first time.”
Jetstar first began flying to Nelson in December 2015 and have since carried almost 680,000 passengers in and out of the region.
Rob says they captured around 17 per cent of the market share for Nelson which, in turn, had a positive effect on Air New Zealand who increased capacity and stimulated travel to our region.
He expected a proportion of that market will transfer to either Air New Zealand or Sounds Air for its Wellington customers.
He says the decision does not affect the new terminal at Nelson Airport, which will open fully in October, as the design was already well advanced and agreed with existing airlines prior to the arrival of Jetstar in 2015.