Locals buy up as Jetstar announces liftoff here
More than 2000 Jetstar seats were booked from the city within hours of the airline’s new domestic routes being announced on Monday.
Beginning in February, there will be 27 flights a week scheduled between Palmerston North and Auckland.
Mayor Grant Smith announced Jetstar’s decision at the Monday morning city council meeting to claps and cheers from councillors. He expected the move to give tourism and businesses in the region a boost. However, Grant says that to attract new business and support existing business, the city needs an international airport.
‘‘Once the current changes have bedded in I will be asking people to have the conversation around developing a business case for international routes with appropriate partners.’’
Jetstar says the newly announced routes, which include flights from Auckland to Napier, New Plymouth and Nelson, are only domestic and there are no plans for the budget wing of Qantas to offer international flights.
The new Auckland connection will give city travellers, as well as those in the surrounding regions, more options. People from Tararua, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Horowhenua are expected to take advantage of the service, while it will probably also attract people from the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa.
Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway says the city looked a logical choice for Jetstar, and paid tribute to the hard work that had gone into the bid. ‘‘The city council and the airport company should be congratulated,’’ he says. ‘‘I know Jetstar were impressed by the comprehensive way in which the case for bringing competition to the region was made.’’
National list MP Jono Naylor says it’s a big win for the city. ‘‘More flights to Palmerston North mean more visitors, more tourists and greater opportunities for the area, and it’s always good to see healthy competition in the market.’’