Jetstar pulling its Hawke's Bay service would be a "disaster", claims one Hastings District Councillor.
Speculation is swirling that Jetstar may stop regional services, including Hawke's Bay, after it was revealed the carrier is making a loss on provincial services.
Simon Nixon, who has been a longtime advocate for better air services into the region, said Jetstar pulling Hawke's Bay flights was one of his worst fears.
"If it happens it will be a disaster.
"My experience of Air New Zealand is, given a monopoly, they will exploit it for all it's worth."
He said there had been a 50 per cent increase in passengers at Hawke's Bay Airport since Jetstar introduced flights to the Bay in late 2015.
"The numbers are about quarter of a million extra passengers."
He said Hawke's Bay is isolated, and in order to compete with other cities around New Zealand for events such as conferences, the airport needed to remain competitive.
"Like it or not, you're pushing it to do five hours to Auckland, six or seven is probably a better estimate, four to Wellington."
"We're competing with places like Rotorua, from Auckland you can get there in maybe two hours."
He said councils need to be looking at the issue and come up with a strategy to make sure it doesn't happen.
"And we need to be talking to New Plymouth, Whanganui and Nelson as well, all of whom could be similarly affected."
Air Napier chief executive Shah Aslam said he was watching the situation with interest.
Currently Air Napier flies between Napier and Gisborne, with plans to do more region-to-region flights in the future.
Aslam said if the space opened up for them to fly between Napier and Auckland, which is the current Jetstar route, it is definitely something they would consider.
Flights would not be as cheap as the current Jetstar flights however, as Aslam said they were not looking to make the same mistakes.
He said they wanted to focus more on customer service, rather than offering cheap flights around the $30 mark.
Nixon was sceptical about the ability for a smaller carrier to compete with Air New Zealand.
"The whole history of Air New Zealand is if a weaker competitor arises on the scene they just put them out of business.
"They either buy them out, as they did with Air Nelson and other small airlines ... or alternatively they drive them out of business."