30 October, 2007

Palmerston North International Airport and OzJet Airlines are pleased to announce agreement to commence scheduled services from Palmerston North in late March 2008 subject to regulatory approvals.

The initial route structure will involve services to Brisbane (Gold Coast), Sydney, and Melbourne with the schedule to be determined in the coming weeks.

Palmerston North International Airport CEO, Garry Goodman said that he is thrilled with the OzJet proposal. “It is critical that we have alternative international services established before 31 March so that all border services are maintained, let alone continuity of service for our customers” he said.

Willie O’Neill, CEO of OzJet airlines says “This project has developed very quickly as a result of overwhelming co-operation and support from everyone we have met. We feel we can deliver the product that the region requires”.

“This agreement has been reached after involving a number of local agencies and strategic partners” said Mr O’Neill.

Kathy Gibson, CEO of Destination Manawatu said she had been very impressed with the way the decision-makers from OzJet had proactively worked quickly with the local community to bring this to fruition.

“We are discussing a trans-Tasman marketing package that focuses on using the airport as a central gateway for visitors to the wider region” she said. “While we have been actively marketing at a consumer level to the eastern seaboard of Australia for the last 5 years, the opportunity with OzJet cranks this to a higher level”.

Mrs Gibson said "The world is our oyster and we are excited with the innovation these guys are showing. The regional community needs to be as committed as we are to make this work."

Vision Manawatu Chief Executive Andrew Powrie said that the advent of OZJET is one of the greatest economic initiatives Palmerston North has seen in the last 20 years. “I take my hat off to those people in the Manawatu who made it happen.”

“OZJET is an innovative, go-forward airline that will be a key strategic asset in both the Manawatu and lower North Island. The airline is vital for our strong and growing local economy and we estimate the carrier will conservatively generate $60 million for the region a year. In Manawatu, our road, rail and air infrastructure underpin our economic performance and the city’s multi-modal transport capability has been cited by a number of businesses as the reason for being based in the region,” Mr Powrie said.

“We also must have an international airline to serve the one million people within a 200 kilometre radius of the city who don’t want the expense or stress of travelling to Auckland or Wellington to make the short journey across the ditch. OZJET is a big win for all of us.”

OzJet will be introducing a B737-300 aircraft in a business class and an economy class configuration.

Mr O’Neill said OzJet has no plans for expansion of scheduled passenger services from other parts of New Zealand. “This opportunity has presented itself as a direct consequence of Freedom Air’s withdrawal.”

"We see this as an initiative that will not only help the economic development of the region, but will provide employment and servicing opportunities for locals" he said.

Mr Goodman said that in announcing the withdrawal of services at the end of March 2008, Freedom Air had said that they expected the region to seek an alternative airline and they would not stand in the way.

OzJet is an Australian airline which commenced charter operations and regular passenger services last year. It offers services to Norfolk Island eight times per week from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Earlier this year it began operating flights three times a week between Perth and Bali.

OzJet also operates on behalf of Airlines of PNG and Solomon Air, as well as a scheduled service between Perth and Derby.


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