Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans on new NEO aircraft and which Australian route will boom

Home Travel Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans on new NEO aircraft and which Australian route will boom
Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans on new NEO aircraft and which Australian route will boom

It’s not quite the lead up to an 18th birthday anyone expected, but the CEO of budget airline Jetstar says a new secret weapon is sure to get the party started.

It’s not quite the lead up to an 18th birthday anyone would have expected.

But after two years of turbulence for the aviation industry amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Australian airline Jetstar say they’re finally ready to celebrate – and will be bringing out all the stops for the big occasion.

In celebration of the budget airline’s 18th birthday, Jetstar will unveil the new livery for its world-class fleet of Airbus NEOs as the group prepare for “a new era of flying”.

Featuring an orange tail and underbelly, the new aircraft will also have freshly branded wingtips and will be 15 per cent more fuel efficient. The first of the 38 aircraft is scheduled to arrive in Melbourne by mid-July.

But the airline’s CEO Gareth Evans told news.com.au that the real standout with the new aircraft come from the cabin.

“These planes were actually ordered in 2011, so it’s a long time coming,” he explained.

“They provide us and our customers with a lot of benefits. They are 50 per cent quieter and the seats are wider and there’s 40 per cent more locker space.
“The aircraft will come with in-seat power and a place to put your iPhone or iPad, and also an internal Wi-Fi. Not exactly Wi-Fi, but an integrated Wi-Fi so you can use your smartphone to log on and it will distribute movies, menus and information.”

Mr Evans said the first of the new aircraft will arrive mid-July, and another 18 of the LR versions set to land within the next two years. Twenty of the XLR version, which can fly even further, will arrive in 2025 for the airline.

“These planes burn less fuel and they can fly further, which is good for us as an airline and good for the environment particularly,” Mr Evans said.

“These planes can fly further, so we can hit Bali from the east coast meaning we can free up the 787s to fly to other destinations. Then when the XLR, they can hit well into South-East Asia from Melbourne and Japan from northern Australia.”

Mr Evans said despite the airline’s new secret weapon and improved experiences, Jetstar will keep their prices low.

“What Jetstar has done since entering the market 18 years ago is democratise air travel for Australians,” he said.

“These new aircraft are not about making Jetstar more premium and then charging for it, it’s about making Jetstar experiences simple and easy and as comfortable as possible and continuing to offer great low fares to our customers.

“Fuel is a big expense for every airline and for a low cost airline it’s a bigger proportion for the expense. Managing your capacity is the key lever, so making sure you have the right amount of capacity in the market – push your seat factor up a few points, so instead of having an 82 per cent seat factor have an 85 per cent seat factor.

“That’s one way of increasing your unit revenue without having to add a dollar to fares.

“Now because we have all these low fares, people are very happy to fly to Perth for the weekend or to the footy in Brisbane or relatives in New Zealand.

“On our first flight 18 years ago we had $29 fares, a month ago we were offering $22 fares. That is hugely important, as well as enhancing the customer experience and making it easier for people and as relaxed for people as possible.”

Entering a new era of flying Mr Evans expects the airline to see a growing number of newly introduced domestic routes have the most success.

“As we have recovered from Covid … it’s been driving my leisure travel and by visiting friends and relatives,” he explained.

“We have joined up Melbourne and Hervey Bay, Melbourne to Launceston. In terms of new destinations, Busselton – which we tried to launch nine times – we finally got there about a month ago. That opens up that part of the world and will be huge for Western Australia.

“Canberra has always been the one major market we haven’t operated in, now we have started Canberra to Brisbane which has been incredibly successful since it started. Now we are looking at adding even more destinations to Canberra and expect them to be extremely successful.”

The airline put Melbourne and the Gold Coast on their network map last month, just weeks before rival airline REX announced they’d be pulling their fleet off the Canberra to Sydney route.

Internationally, Mr Evans said four destinations remain in focus.

“Korea is one we are very excited about at the moment. But we are potentially looking to put additional capacity on Japan, Bali and Vietnam and other regions in the Asia-Pacific sphere,” he said.

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