A bright red jet landed in Christchurch today carrying a launch and recruitment team from Virgin Blue along with Brett Godfrey, the low fair airline`s Chief Executive, who announced that its new international division, Pacific Blue Airlines, is on course for takeoff from a new home base of Christchurch on February 1, 2004.
The new low fare carrier will follow the lead of its sister airline, Virgin Blue, offering heavily reduced airfares and high quality customer service with exceptional on time performance.
To start off the new service with a clear message about competition, the airline will be offering thousands of seats at the special introductory price of NZ$99 (subject to all taxes and surcharges)* to the people of Christchurch who want to take a Queensland holiday. This offer is meant to send the clear message that there is only one airline which truly believes in every day low fares and isn`t simply reacting to changes in the industry.
Pacific Blue will initially operate daily services between Christchurch and Brisbane with plans to expand services between New Zealand and other key ports in Australia as well offering domestic services within New Zealand.
As well as boosting tourism across the Tasman, Pacific Blue will create hundreds of jobs in New Zealand with plans for more than 200 highly trained professional staff to be recruited during the airline`s start-up phase. The total employment resulting from this service will be significant, with ancillary jobs in tourism and other services generated both in Australia and New Zealand.
The choice of Christchurch as a New Zealand base was a natural one for the airline, since in many ways Virgin Blue considered it similar to its home in Brisbane. Both cities are known as key launching pads for tourism, but they also have a healthy economies and growing populations that enjoy a quality of life that is hard to match anywhere in the world.
Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said, “Clearly the enthusiasm of the airport, the tourism authorities and of other key officials in Christchurch has given us the same level of confidence that we have in Queensland. So many people have told us how they thought it would be great for the people of the South Island to have an airline they could call their own. I am happy to link up our home base in Queensland to our new home in Christchurch. In Australia, we have consistently focused on `hub-busting` to ensure that people don`t have to change planes somewhere else just to get where they want to go. We plan on pursuing the same strategy in New Zealand and this will benefit everyone from business travellers to people who simply believed they could never afford to fly.”
Brett Godfrey continued “There is no reason why New Zealanders should not benefit from the same type of competition that we have in Australia. Clearly Air New Zealand`s, and now Qantas`s, sudden about face on airfares would suggest that they know that the days of gouging the travelling public are over. While our services won`t start today, we are glad to see New Zealanders already getting the benefit of real competition instead of being subject to a cosy duopoly.”
After the launch special is finished, Pacific Blue will be offering every day low fares from NZ$189* with fully flexible walk-up fares of NZ$349*. Fully Flexible fares in both directions are nearly 50% off of what competitors are offering and this is where Pacific Blue`s consumer proposition is strongest.
Pacific Blue will launch its maiden service with a fleet of bright red, brand new Boeing 737-800 aircraft, emblazoned with flypacificblue.com on their side. The aircraft are fresh from the Boeing factory in Seattle and will carry the most modern technology in the South Pacific as well as 180 leather seats pitched to 31” or more.
When introducing the new name Mr Godfrey joked, “In order to get overseas we had to sacrifice the Virgin. But we haven`t given up a thing when it comes to our tradition of great service, modern aircraft and everyday low fares. This is a proud brand that we hope to fly throughout the Pacific region.”