‘Red letter day’ as Jetstar launches service
Jetstar has arrived. The first flight of the Aussie-based budget airline touched down at Palmerston North airport on Monday.
Welcomed by local iwi, VIPs and dignitaries including local MPs and mayors from around the region, the 50-seat, twin-engined, Q300 arrived at 3.45pm carrying Jetstar chief executive David Hall, the head of Jetstar New Zealand Grant Kerr, and a small group of regular passengers.
Palmerston North mayor Grant Smith describes the airline’s launch as a ‘‘red-letter day’’ for Manawatu, and a ‘‘great leap forward’’ in connecting the region to the world.
Asking the public to support the new service, Grant says he’s been asked many times when Palmerston North was going to get more flights and this was an opportunity to show that demand could support more competition.
Palmerston North Airport chief executive David Lanham says the airport company expected to see at least a 20 per cent increase in the number of passengers arriving and departing the city, possibly exceeding 600,000 per year by June 2017.
Upgrades to deal with the increase, including work on the arrival gate and extending the car park, are expected to be finished by the end of March.