I say "Jetstar Airways-branded" as it will be another Qantas group company that operates the flights. This company is Eastern Australia Airline, which is part of the Qantas Group, operating under the "Qantaslink" brand in Australia. Eastern Australia Airline has a number of "spare" Bombardier DHC-8-300 aircraft [they same model as Air Nelson/ Air NZ uses]. I assume they also have the crews to operate the aircraft, at least in the short term.
Initially there will be 5 aircraft operating between regional centres, plus [and this is an assumption] Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The reason for this assumption is that, if true, it enables Jetstar's regional passengers to more easily link with the "main trunk" along with trans-Tasman and beyond services.
Timing is everything, and that holds true here. Things are getting better for Qantas group after a few tough years, they have spare aircraft, maybe spare crews, a domestic competitor [Air NZ] which is pulling out of some regions, and a launch at the Christmas rush period.
Initially, it appears that crews may be based in Auckland, although there is also rumour of a Wellington base being set up, along with the possibility of hangerage [maybe even a light maintenance base? We'll have to wait to see about that one].
Interestingly, Jetstar does not operate turbo-prop services across Australia. Is this a case of "wait and see, Australia"?? Perhaps Jetstar are using this as a trial of what could eventually roll out across Australia? Could Jetstar replace some of the Qantaslink branding in Australia? [yes, this is a long shot and only a possibility rather than being likely from what I have heard]
We will have to wait for many of the details, but here are a couple of questions which are bouncing around in my head for now:
- What regional centres will they operate into and how will they link into the main trunk and international routes?
- How will they crew the flights long-term? NZ contracts or Australian contracts?
- Will they set up a base in Wellington?
- Is this a pre-cursor to the Jetstar brand being used for turbo-prop services within Australia?
If you know more, feel free to leave a comment, or send me an email!
Anyway, here is a picture of the only DHC-8 operator in NZ at the moment... we will be seeing a few more of these later this year, but with a livery looking a little more like the A320 in the background!
|Bombardier DHC-8-311, ZK-NES, operated by Air Nelson/ Air NZ. Type soon to be operated under the Jetstar brand|