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Jetstar now over bumpy NZ start

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 03/09/2014

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Jetstar New Zealand was attracting more business customers, thanks to its improved standards of reliability, the company says.

Grant Kerr, head of New Zealand operations for Jetstar, acknowledges that there was a period when the Australian-owned airline was often publicly criticised for breakdowns in communication with the general public.

Jetstar had hit the headlines for such things as having a pregnant woman bumped off a flight after having already let her fly one leg, and cancelling a flight which meant fans missed a Lady Gaga concert in Auckland.

The Australian low-cost airline, a subsidiary of Qantas, says it has about 20.7 per cent of the domestic market based on flights between Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland, Queenstown and Dunedin.

Kerr said the airline had improved its reliability and "significantly moved on" in its five years as a domestic carrier.

Customers were aware of that and were booking with the low cost airline. On its morning and evening "peak time" flights between destinations such as Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown, up to 50 per cent of the passengers on those flights were business customers.

Punctuality was high on a measure based on flights departing and arriving within 10 minutes of the scheduled time and that was averaging 90 per cent or more, Kerr said.

The airline was now tracking less than one flight cancelled per 160 scheduled flights.

Parent Qantas has just published its annual results for the June 2014 year, which show Jetstar experienced a 7.7 per cent fall in domestic passenger numbers. They totalled 1.724 million on domestic routes in 2014, down from 1.868m in 2013 but up from 1.234m in 2012.

Communications manager Phil Boeyen said the bulk of the fall in passengers from 2013 was related to a discontinuation of a Wellington to Queenstown service, which had been successful in terms of passenger numbers but not in terms of yield per passenger.

Jetstar was forecasting capacity to be "stable" and passenger numbers to be "roughly on a par" in the current year to June 30, 2015, Kerr said.

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