Jetstar's new regional services are due to start today but the airline is flying into flak from rival Air New Zealand which has placed a pointed advert in today's New Zealand Herald.
Jetstar's 50-seat Bombardier Q300 is due to take off from Napier around 9am and get a full water arch welcome from fire trucks on the runway at Auckland Airport an hour later.
The Napier-Auckland-Nelson service will be followed next February with flights to Palmerston North and New Plymouth as the Australian-owned airline challenges Air New Zealand on regional routes that have been very lucrative, depending on the number of full fare paying passengers aboard.
Air New Zealand has responded by dropping fares to match Jetstar's $9 introductory offers, announcing additional new planes and in today's Herald an advert showing a Jetstar jet with an elongated nose quoting the Australian airline's statement ''We're New Zealand's most punctual domestic airline.''
The self-reported departure data by both airlines is a source of friction between them with disagreement over how they're measured and debate over the validity of comparing the much bigger Air New Zealand with Jetstar.
The Australian airline started flying main trunk jet routes in 2008 and although its entry was marred by poor initial on time performance, it has improved since. It says it has regional trialled routes and built slack into its services to try and avoid teething problems.
Politicians at national and local level have welcomed competition on regional routes which they say will help businesses cut costs and make travel for families easier.
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