Turbulence continues to dog Jetstar's fledgling New Zealand operation, with police called to check-ins as passengers become aggressive about delays.
The Qantas subsidiary is also understood to be regularly dishing out $25 meal vouchers for delayed passengers and last weekend paid for hotels for passengers in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington as bad weather halted flights.
But Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway insisted the airline cared about its passengers.
The Sunday Star-Times understands police were called to Jetstar's counters at Christchurch Airport last weekend after passengers became aggressive over delays.
Police and airline staff diffused the situation and no arrests were made. A similar situation also occurred at the airline's Auckland Airport check-in.
Jetstar's problems since its debut on the New Zealand domestic market less than a month ago have left many passengers swearing off the airline despite cheap fares.
Timetables were adjusted after the first week when Jetstar said only 20% of flights were leaving within 15 minutes of schedule.
Then passengers complained of missing flights because of the airline's 30-minute lock-out at check-in.
Rival company Air New Zealand chimed in with a $50 fare for passengers denied boarding on Jetstar.
Westaway said people became upset last weekend when fog disrupted flights around the country, which led to police intervention. The airline had a duty of care to customers and staff but calling security was not commonplace.
"People got upset but it was nothing to do with timetabling. We run a very good operation," Westaway said.
He insisted bad weather was the only reason Jetstar accommodated people in hotels overnight and the airline had put on extra flights from Auckland to Christchurch the next day. But at least one regular Sunday flight was delayed by almost 90 minutes.
Westaway admitted Jetstar had experienced tough operating conditions in the past few weeks but said for the past five days its flights had been more than 80% on time, except for Wednesday.
He labelled check-in problems a "strange debate". He said Jetstar was not anti-customer but closed counters to ensure flights left on time. "We are very empathetic and apologise for some of the conditions over the past month. We think we have handled the situation well."
Westaway said he knew some customers were aggrieved and Jetstar was working hard at running a good service.
The Dominion Post reported last month that Jetstar had brought in extra customer service trainers from Australia to get its struggling domestic operation up to speed.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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