Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bye Qantas, hello Jetstar

The end of Qantas flown domestic services in New Zealand (well technically its subsidiary JetConnect), and their replacement by Qantas's low cost carrier Jetstar, will see a big increase in cheap seats on domestic flights.

However, the downside isn't just the end to competition between Rotorua and Christchurch, but also competition at the quality end of the domestic airline market. You see Jetstar is a true low cost carrier. Don't expect free coffee, tea, cookies or water on Jetstar. Expect to be crammed in with 177 people in an Airbus A320. Moreover, members of Qantas Club or top tier Qantas frequent flyers used to the lounges at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch domestic terminals might ask what happens to them? You wont have premium checkin either.

So Air NZ's 80% hold on the business sector will grow, given Air NZ's most frequent flyers and Koru Club members can sit in the front half of a 737 and get four to five inches more legroom than the back - or more than what Jetstar offers by far.

However, most of you, like Americans and most tourists in Europe, don't give a damn about service or seating. You'll travel like cattle for an hour or more just to get there cheaply. This also is not really about Air NZ - it is about Pacific Blue - for it is the most likely casualty of this move.

UPDATE: Domestic Qantas Club lounges are apparently to stay for now.

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