Nelson air travellers have been celebrating since the news of Jetstar’s possible arrival – one in particular. Jetstar CEO Grant Kerr lives in Richmond with his family and, after time as CEO of Air Nelson, knows exactly what the region will offer to Jetstar. But he says he won’t let local loyalties sway his decision about which centres to fly to.
“We can’t have an airline just for me to fly to work. Is it commercially viable? That’s the question, but I don’t see anything negative with Nelson at this point,” he told Nelson Weekly last week after spending last Thursday speaking with regional stakeholders, including Nelson Airport CEO Rob Evans, both mayors and the tourism and business industries.
“The conversations that we’ve had have been very encouraging and they understand what a low cost carrier will do for the region, the benefits. Nelson has put forward a great case, we’ve certainly been impressed. I think they’ve done the region proud for the work they’ve prepared in such a short period of time.”
Jetstar announced two weeks ago that it would be flying to four provincial centres, out of a possible seven towns. Since then, they’ve been travelling to those seven centres to gauge support.
Grant says, when looking at new destinations, Jetstar will look at driving growth.
“It’s got to be sustainable for us. It’s not about coming in and taking a piece of the pie, it’s about driving that growth. It’s also about gaining an understanding about how much support there is in that region. The key for us is ‘do we think we can develop and grow a partnership with that region?”
He says Jetstar’s announcement is a “game-changer” and Nelsonians could see up to a 40 per cent drop in prices. “People in the Nelson region have a very high propensity to fly. This will open up the opportunity to fly more often.”
Jetstar will make their decision about where to fly in September, with flights starting in December.