Jetstar cuts back frequency of New Plymouth flights over winter period
Budget airline Jetstar has temporarily cut back the number of flights between Auckland and New Plymouth, citing a lack of customer demand.
A Jetstar spokesperson said the airline had reduced some of its regional flying between mid-July and the end of October to align capacity with seasonal demand in quieter travel months.
"Jetstar has operated its full regional schedule of 244 flights a week for the past 16 months without any seasonal adjustments, including 40 flights a week between New Plymouth and Auckland," the spokesperson said.
"Following a review of off-peak customer demand Jetstar is reducing some regional capacity on a seasonal basis over three months.
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The new schedule would see only two return flights daily.
The spokesperson said customers had been transferred to alternative services on the same day as their original booking, but if the alternative service wasn't suitable they could request a full refund.
New Plymouth was among five new regional routes announced by Jetstar in August 2015.
The cutback comes three weeks after the New Plymouth District Council approved a upgrade to the airport's terminal, which is expected to cost between $21.7 million and $28.7m.
However, New Plymouth Airport manager Wayne Wootton said the reduction in flights wouldn't affect the upgrade,
"These annual fluctuations in flight schedules have been built into our preparations for the new terminal's design," he said.
"Normally airlines reschedule every six months. Jetstar have kept their former schedule for 18 months in New Plymouth and their winter schedule will last for three.
"Jetstar is bringing a winter schedule into Nelson and Palmerston North too."
Air New Zealand spokeswoman Brigitte Ransom said the airline continued to have confidence in New Plymouth and the wider Taranaki region.
"We have no current plans to introduce capacity reductions on this route," she said.
"Air New Zealand grew its domestic seat capacity by 9 per cent in the 2017 financial year and a third of that growth was on our regional routes."
New Plymouth councillor Gordon Brown, who opposed the airport upgrade, said it highlighted a potential weaknesses in the council's plans
"During debate at the council I said we had no contract with Jetstar, who could walk away at any time," he said.
"I also said any decisions on their future in New Plymouth would be made in Sydney, not here.
"Let's face it, they couldn't even get Adele fans from New Plymouth to her concert in time. I suggest a rethink on the amount of money we're investing on the airport revamp could be timely."