Bay firms excited by Jetstar decision

Business leaders are unanimous in praise of Jetstar’s decision to operate Auckland flights from Hawke’s Bay, starting in December, breaking Air New Zealand’s monopoly.

Lower cost and higher frequency of flights was “wildly exciting” for Mike Purchas, enabling his company to hire more people in Hawke’s Bay.

He founded sportsground.co.nz in 2007 and it has grown into one of the country’s most visited sites, being the largest supplier of websites, online registrations, online member management and e-commerce solutions to the sports industry in New Zealand.

“Most of our clients are outside of Hawke’s Bay and it will make it much more affordable to have more staff here and service clients from here,” he said.

He said he was looking forward to the end of the promotional period. “The $9 fares are great for publicity but I’m looking forward to getting past the price-war stage to where we have sustainably lower fares.”

He said Hawke’s Bay could sustain two airlines.

“Air New Zealand, for the last two years in a row, have announced record increases in profits. It is well known that regional routes like Hawke’s Bay are a massive contributor to that. It is unsurprising it is attractive to Jetstar and I certainly believe it will be sustainable for two carriers.”

Brownrigg Agriculture director David Brownrigg said more and cheaper flights were a region-wide boost for business.

“We have two strong companies and that is a good base to start from,” he said.

Pan Pac managing director Doug Ducker said competitive options were welcome.

“We are a believer in competition bringing value,” he said.

Telecommunication company Now’s chief executive Hamish White said he was “ecstatic” about Jetstar’s arrival.

“It is going to change doing business from Hawke’s Bay, it absolutely will,” he said.

“I pretty much only make a monthly trip because the rates have been so extortionate. If I book a return trip in the week that I need to fly I won’t get any change out of $550. I can now afford to make a trip every week.”

He expected service levels to increase.

“When you have competition, you are accountable to your customers each and every day.”

Mission Estate Winery chief executive Peter Holley said greater variety of flights at cheaper prices would be a boost for events such as its annual outdoor concert, cancelled this year, making it “more do-able”.

An impediment to selling tickets to out-of-towners was flight availability and cost, combined with accommodation.

“By the time you’ve added all that up you are competing with the Melbourne market,” he said.

Jetstar flights would also help with sales of wine.

“We are expected to be in metropolitan areas, quite frequently at short notice, and those are particularly expensive.

“With more frequency and lower cost, it enables us to provide the brand with greater support.”