Jetstar's announcement that it is considering introducing flights into Rotorua has come as a pleasant surprise for city officials, who say it would do great things for the district's economy.
Jetstar announced plans yesterday to start flying to regional destinations in New Zealand from later this year, bringing much-needed competition and more affordable fares to travellers outside the country's main centres.
The services are expected to operate to at least four regional destinations initially, with some of those under consideration being Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier and Palmerston North in the North Island, and Nelson and Invercargill in the South Island.
The new services will be operated by a fleet of five 50-seat Bombardier Q300 aircraft and are expected to create at least 100 new jobs for pilots, cabin crew and ground crew.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh said a Jetstar service to Rotorua would be "a fantastic move".
"If they do decide to come here, it would be huge.
"Nothing against Air New Zealand, but they do have a monopoly and when you have a monopoly you don't have to worry about price.
"More flights and affordable flights mean more people could come, and the more people that come, the more they spend.
"If they announce a Rotorua to Queenstown flight, they would be bang on the money and Air New Zealand would be missing out on a cash cow," Mr Walsh said.
Rotorua Airport acting chief executive Wayne Wootten said Rotorua Airport had a long and excellent working relationship with Air New Zealand.
"Nevertheless, as the gateway for one of New Zealand's premier visitor destinations, we want to encourage as many people as possible to fly to Rotorua and beyond."
He said they welcomed the opportunity to work with Jetstar, or any other airline.
Rotorua MP Todd McClay said ultimately it would be very good news for Rotorua's economy and he was pleased the city was on the shortlist.
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said residents, the tourism sector and the city's airport business would all benefit if Jetstar came to Rotorua.
"We would welcome any new service that broadened the choices available for locals and other travellers, especially if it added sharper airfares.
"Rotorua already has the infrastructure and, as a destination, is a popular choice for both domestic and international travellers. A key for our future is to maximise opportunities that can link Rotorua into the South Island," she said.
Destination Rotorua marketing manager Oscar Nathan said he was delighted to hear that Jetstar was considering new regional centres. "Clearly any additional flights in and out of Rotorua - and the wider central North Island, for that matter - is great news for both the visitor sector and the broader travelling public."
Regional fares will go on sale in September, with first flights taking off in early December.
Jetstar, which is fully owned by Qantas, launched transtasman flights in 2005 and established domestic operations in New Zealand in June 2009.
Jetstar executives will be visiting regional centres in the next two months to meet airport management, local government, business, travel and tourism representatives.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said travellers could expect big drops in price.
"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 barriers come in."