The new Jetstar services are being credited with sparking record passenger numbers through Hawke's Bay Airport.

Airport Company chief executive Nick Story said numbers in the first month following Jetstar's introduction of services to and from Auckland were 14.3 per cent up on December 2014, and set a new record for the month.

It also contributed to Hawke's Bay Airport passenger numbers being up 13.5 per cent for the first six months of the financial year and numbers for the year will "comfortably" exceed 500,000 for the first time.

Jetstar introduced its Napier-Auckland segment on December 1, and yesterday increased the number of flights from six to eight a day, as well as starting new services involving New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Nelson as it moves towards adding 600,000 more seats to the domestic flight market this year.


There are, however, no plans by Jetstar to offer new routes to the Napier service.

Corporate communications manager Phil Boeyen said the focus would continue to be the Auckland flights "to make sure they are successful".

Last week, Air New Zealand announced it is adding 29,500 seats to flights to its Hawke's Bay schedule this year, which include direct services to and from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Mr Story said: "December is traditionally one of the Airport Company's busiest months. Jetstar's arrival and lower fare structure has enabled more people to fly and this has grown the market."

The extra numbers are placing pressure on the airport's infrastructure, he said, but added: "Our terminal development project could not have been better timed and we are also considering options to extend our carparking facilities to cater for projected growth in passenger numbers over the longer term."

The increases were news but no surprise to Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas, who said they were to be expected in a general upswing being shown by other data and the views of those in the tourism and accommodation sector.

Napier mayor Bill Dalton expected the increase, and said: "We always knew there was a pent-up demand for air travel, but it was unaffordable to so many people.

"It's great that people are travelling with family for leisure and pleasure, and business travel is also more affordable," he said.

He said council appreciates the need to provide events and attractions for visitors.

"We are looking at a number of events, and the fact we have a greater number of seats in and out of Hawke's Bay is significant in terms of the events we are looking at."

The airline passenger growth was initially announced yesterday by Jetstar as it started three new services in other parts of the country, including 35-minute flights between Wellington and Nelson, with Nelson Airport passenger numbers up 18 per cent, and those on Nelson-Auckland services up 33 per cent.

Jetstar chief executive David Hall said the increased numbers show how the airline's low fares stimulate the market.

"Many passengers on our new regional services have never flown before or haven't travelled by air for many years. That's the kind of growth a low-fares airline brings to new routes - new customers and more frequent flyers.

Since we started selling our regional flights in August last year, tens of thousands of New Zealand travellers have booked tickets for under $50, backing up our commitment to bring low fares choice to the market."

Two comparisons yesterday by Hawke's Bay Today were for a return Friday-Sunday trip to Auckland this week, with cheapest options priced at $148 with Jetstar and $178 with Air New Zealand, and another Friday-Saturday return trip on February 26-28, at $98 with Jetstar and $148 with Air New Zealand.