Lo­cals buy up as Jet­star an­nounces liftoff here

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS -

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.’’

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