Propstar, Jetstar, but not Pornstar, as auto correct keeps on insisting

It’s official. As reported earlier, Jetstar is launching a turbo-prop operation in New Zealand to take on routes where the Air NZ presence is either vulnerable or overpriced.

The flights will use an initial fleet of five former Qantaslink 50 seat Q300s, and are expected to operate to at least four regional destinations initially from early December.

Destinations under consideration are Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier and Palmerston North in the North Island and Nelson and Invercargill in the South Island. These will connect with one or more of Jetstar’s current domestic destinations, according to a statement by Jetstar NZ.

Matching the operating costs of fully depreciated low fuel burn small capacity turboprops on routes which would rarely fill a single aisle jet will set Air NZ an interesting challenge, which of course it might seek to meet with its own turbo-props, for which it will no longer be able to charge anything like the over-the-top fares it currently asks for.

The much leaked announcement caused a sharp plunge in the Air NZ share price in trading in New Zealand.

Be clear about one thing. Air NZ won’t take this standing still, so a really good old fashioned full on Middle Earth type brawl will ensue, possibly spreading to the trans Tasman routes, and who knows where else if as also rumored Qantas or American Airlines decided to respectively return to or inaugurate non-stop flights from NZ to the USA.

The interesting possibility of a ‘Propstar’ type operation in Australia arises.  Short haul turbo-prop Qantaslink flights aren’t really compatible with full service carrier fares, so why should they remain part of the Australian scene?

This is an extract from an message from Qantaslink management to staff this morning concerning ‘Propstar’

Alan Joyce is in New Zealand today announcing Jetstar’s plan to start regional services in New Zealand.  The Q300 services will be managed and marketed by Jetstar and operated under the QantasLink (Eastern/Sunstate) AOC.

The opportunity for Jetstar to expand into regional New Zealand came as a result of us working together across the Group to make the best use of our resources and our expertise.

With our QantasLink network review last year, a number of Q300 aircraft became surplus to our needs, and were awaiting sale in Tamworth. The availability of these aircraft, along with our team’s extensive knowledge in Q300 operations, meant we were able to help make this possible.

Our Regional Operations Centre (ROC) will manage the Q300 NZ operation and we will also have responsibility for safety and regulatory oversight, Checking and Training and the continuing airworthiness of the fleet.  We’re currently assessing whether the heavy maintenance will be done in Australia or New Zealand.

Regional New Zealand was a market Jetstar were looking to enter for some time and a number of options were considered in how it would be operated.  Due to QantasLink’s experience and capability, we were the logical choice to operate these services for Jetstar.

Also: Jetstar stays on at Avalon with new flights

In other developments, Jetstar in Australia is launching Avalon-Gold Coast flights daily from late October. Lindsay Fox who owns Avalon Airport will be breaking out the champagne over that, with a deal done to keep Jetstar at Melbourne’s even more distant second airport alive also keeping it in the picture for the larger needs of greater Melbourne in coming decades.

A detailed account of the arrangements is in the Geelong Advertiser here.

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