Rotorua and Tauranga are likely to battle it out for Jetstar flights as Western Bay business leaders do not believe the airline carrier would consider basing itself in two neighbouring cities in the same region.
Jetstar had identified eight potential cities including Tauranga, Rotorua, Napier, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Nelson and Invercargill - which could lead to ticket prices dropping 40 per cent and the creation of at least 100 new jobs for pilots, cabin crew, and ground crew, a company spokesman said.
It would announce four regional destinations by the time it began its commercial launch in early September with the first flights expected in December but was remaining tight-lipped about any preferences despite a whirlwind visit to all of the contenders.
Tauranga deputy mayor Kelvin Clout said he did not expect both Tauranga and Rotorua to be selected, "I would suspect they will choose one because of how close we are to each other."
Its business case, which was prepared by Tauranga City Council, Priority One and Tourism Bay of Plenty had been sent to meet yesterday's deadline and he believed it was a strong economic proposal.
Although Tauranga Airport was not international, its landing fees were "very competitive compared to other airports around New Zealand and we are considered very cost effective", which meant it would not be ratepayer funded, he said.
Tourism Bay of Plenty head of marketing and communications Kristin Dunne said the business case for Jetstar in Tauranga was compelling. It had strength in domestic tourism and had a developing international tourism market and Jetstar's entry would help with Asian and Australian links, she said.
However, Rotorua had a more established international tourism market, which was why they would want the Queenstown link, she said. Its conference market would also be appealing to Jetstar.
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick told the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday its business case was led by Rotorua Airport, working alongside Rotorua Lakes Council, Destination Rotorua and Grow Rotorua, with input from other stakeholders such as the Chamber of Commerce, and various business and industry sectors.
There were two key areas of focus for Rotorua the first was making sure the proposal would be commercially viable and sustainable in the long term.
"The second key area of focus is to attract air services that more effectively link us with the South Island - and Queenstown in particular. Rotorua has made it clear that this direct link is critical for tourism and economic development purposes."
Rotorua Airport chief executive Nicole Brewer said it could readily accommodate Jetstar or any airline - without any renovation or infrastructure changes.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh said more flights would mean increased numbers of people, "and the more people that come the more money they spend".
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said he did not take part in any discussions or associations with Jetstar as he was also on the board of the Rotorua Airport.
"I have declared an interest in it ... and that is the right thing to do."
An Air New Zealand spokesman said both destinations were incredibly important and it had invested into Tauranga and Rotorua.
"In 2016, we will add almost 36,000 additional seats in and out of Tauranga, representing a further capacity increase of nearly 10 per cent," she said.
Meanwhile in Rotorua it would operate an additional 8000 seats to and from Rotorua, a 6 per cent increase for the 2016 financial year.