Jetstar meets with Hamilton leaders ahead of domestic service decision
Decision-makers remain tight-lipped about whether ratepayers will need to open their wallets in order to lure domestic Jetstar services to Hamilton International Airport.
Hamilton is in the ring with six other cities in a move Jetstar has announced that will see it fly to regional destinations from December.
However when asked whether the city would need to put money into the service, head of New Zealand Jetstar, Grant Kerr, simply said partnerships were being discussed.
"From Jetstar's perspective costs obviously are a key point for us, so it's how we can create a relationship and a partnership - so what does that really look like? So that's what we're discussing today as well."
While the city will have to wait until September to learn if Jetstar will service Hamilton, Jetstar leaders met with city leaders on Monday to talk business. Kerr said, for the city to secure the service, it must convince Jetstar that Hamilton had sufficient growth and demand.
"The key reason to come to Hamilton for Jetstar would be to bring growth, so bringing the opportunity for people to travel more frequently at lower cost."
The money question was also side-stepped by Kiri Goulter, chief executive of Hamilton Waikato Tourism, who said it would be "fabulous to have a partnership of some sort" with Jetstar.
HWT recently secured an extra $405,000 from seven council funding partners.
"The focus of the additional funding is to grow our domestic market, so connectivity, and airline activity will play a part in that. Secondly it's to grow the business and events sector, so once again connectivity, capacity will play a part in helping to support that.
Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker said she felt the city had sufficient growth to make domestic routes viable for the airline, with a growing tourism market and strong business sector.
"Jetstar is telling us what they're looking for is growth and consumer demand ... and I think we can put that case together pretty well.
"If we get Jetstar across the line, that would be a good outcome for not only business visitors, but mums,dads and students travelling around the country."
The rate-payer owned airport still retains the word International in its name despite the fact no carriers leave our shores from its terminal.
In recent years, Jetstar has operated flights to Australia from Hamilton, but Kerr said the prospect of international flights returning to the city airport is unlikely.
"At this point I don't see an opportunity for an international travel [service]."
Hardaker said the city needed to focus on being a strong regional airport.
"We've had carriers come and go through the international market and what it demonstrates is long-term sustainability of international carriers is very difficult.
"You've got the choice of international options out of Auckland, but if Jetstar come in, one thing they've also talked to us about is the connection with Qantas."