Jetstar has not ruled out direct flights to Tauranga in the longer term as it goes head-to-head with Air New Zealand on regional routes later this year.
Jetstar announced yesterday it would start flying to regional destinations in New Zealand from later this year, bringing what it said was much-needed competition and more affordable fares to travellers outside the country's main centres.
New destinations being considered included Napier, Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Nelson and Invercargill.
While Tauranga was not considered for the initial uptake, Alan Joyce, chief executive of Jetstar's parent company Qantas, said it would look at expanding its operations to more regions in the future.
The first operations would start in December, with four destinations expected to be up-and-running by the end of the New Year.
The aircraft would be 10-year-old Australian 50-seat Bombardier Q300 turbo-props.
Jetstar managers would visit regional centres during the next two months to meet airports, local government, and business, travel and tourism representatives to determine the first regional destinations.
The services would bring huge economic benefits to the regions and could also expect big drops in usual regional prices, Mr Joyce said.
"When we entered the domestic market in 2009, fares came down by 40 per cent. That's the typical reduction you see across the board when our low-cost carriers come in."
More details of price would be included in Jetstar's commercial announcement in September, with prices affected by local partnerships.
"We're calling on local communities to get behind us," Mr Joyce said. "If they want competition and low airfares, we'll need their support."
Jetstar's Corporate communications manager Phil Boeyen said the company had looked at Tauranga and it would be considered later on if it came up on its radar.
"We'll be happy to look at Tauranga if the support and numbers are there.
"We're looking at the numbers we think would be best in the future. It's about looking in the long-term and wherever growth is, but we would be happy to hear from Tauranga," he said.
Community support for Jetstar to fly to and from Tauranga domestically would draw the company's attention, he said.
"If there's lots of support there that would get on our radar then we would be happy to look at Tauranga."
Prime Minister and Minster for Tourism John Key said the regions should be "openly cheering" following the announcement. "This is going to give New Zealanders more opportunities to visit family; businessmen another way to take trips; and international tourists another way to visit key tourism destinations in New Zealand."
The country's regions were making an important contribution to the economy through tourism, niche-manufacturing, winemaking, forestry, agriculture and horticulture and the extra air would help connect them, he said.
"Today's commitment is more good news for New Zealand and for the regions," Mr Key said.
The new regional destinations would connect to the broader Qantas Group network, including both Qantas and Jetstar flying across the Tasman.
In November Mayor Stuart Crosby backed calls for cheaper travel into Tauranga.
Following yesterday's announcement he said the key "good thing" was Jetstar moving from the main trunk air services into regional provinces.
"If they are going to get to Rotorua I think it's a very good thing, that's the closest airport to Tauranga."
•Jetstar Airways is based in Australia and New Zealand (wholly owned by the Qantas Group).
•In 2009, Jetstar commenced daily direct services from Auckland to Gold Coast and Sydney and later that year started domestic New Zealand flights between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.