Jetstar withdraws from Rocky
Update: Council CEO hits back at Jetstar
JETSTAR yesterday blasted Rockhampton Airport for its high pricing regime which it says forced the airline to make the “regrettable” decision to drop daily services in and out of the city.
As of May 9, the daily Brisbane to Rockhampton flights will stop because Jetstar hasn’t been able to secure a competitive and long-term airport pricing agreement in Rockhampton.
While Jetstar announced its withdrawal, rival airline Tiger Airways jumped in with $28 fares between Brisbane and Rockhampton.
Tiger Airways Australia Commercial Director Steve Burns said the company was excited to be able to double its number of Rockhampton flights to and from Brisbane.
The company will start this service on March 28.
QantasLink is also boosting capacity for Central Queensland with an extra 47 weekly return services between Rockhampton and Brisbane, an increase of 2000 seats each week, as well as additional daily flights between Mackay and Brisbane. There is also currently a $49 sale on flights from Rockhampton to Brisbane.
The head of Sales and Marketing for QantasLink, Elsa Dalessio yesterday said it would have cheap seats on offer all year round.
“We have competitive priced fares, but sometimes passengers need to book in advance,” Ms Dalessio said.
Jetstar Director, Government and Commercial Partnerships, Unni Menon said the Qantas group (which owns QantasLink and Jetstar) approached Rockhampton Airport in early February looking for the opportunity to secure a long-term commercially sustainable pricing agreement.
“Competition is a priority for our business to continue and while other airports (like Mackay) came forward to meet an agreement, Rockhampton Airport hasn’t,” Mr Menon said.
He said airport-related costs represented up to 25% of Jetstar’s expenses and was the key to offering lower fares.
Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor, Cr Brad Carter said while Jetstar’s announcement today was disappointing he was sure any gap would be filled by other carriers.
“With fares at a record low and air travel so convenient I expect that the Rockhampton Airport will continue to grow and expand with the expectation and needs of the community,” Cr Carter said.
Pensioner Joy Small of Zilzie recently returned to Rockhampton after a trip the Brisbane and the Gold Coast with her friend of 60 years, Harold Scrivener of England.
They travelled one way on a Jetstar flight and returned to Rockhampton on a QantasLink service.
Mrs Small was surprised at Jetstar’s withdrawal from Rockhampton Airport and said it was a shame for all budget travellers.
She wasn’t surprised to hear the issue between council and the airline was the cost of airport fees.
“Council overcharges for everything,” she said.
Qantas said it was not threatened by Tiger Airlines and the rival would have no impact on their business.
Jetstar will add an extra daily return Brisbane to Mackay service starting from May 10 expanding its offering on the route up to four times daily.
Federal Member for Capricornia, Kirsten Livermore, was angry to hear the news yesterday.
“I have spent the last 10 years fighting with Qantas management to maintain services to Rockhampton and now here we go again,” Ms Livermore said.
For those Jetstar passengers with flights booked after May 9, Qantas is offering the option of a full refund, a replacement QantasLink flight or a transfer for a Mackay to Brisbane flight on Jetstar.
Mr Menon said the company would be in contact with these passengers over the next week or so.
Member for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten was unavailable for comment late yesterday afternoon.
Jetstar started operating out of Rockhampton in 2004 and every flight ran close to its capacity of 177 seats.