The spokesman told CI News the airline faced competition on most of their network.
“We are confident in our product, our people and our future plans which will see us continue to invest heavily in growing our business in partnership with our stakeholders.”
The airline’s comments follow Jetstar’s recent announcement that they will begin operations in the Cook Islands next year, with weekly flights between Rarotonga and Auckland.
Tourism’s chief executive Halatoa Fua said Jetstar will introduce around 25,000 return seats a year between Auckland and Rarotonga, generating millions of dollars for the local economy.
“With tourism providing approximately 60 per cent of the GDP, the spinoff for the nation as a whole and for local business will be fantastic.”
The airline will fly direct from Auckland three times a week on a year-round basis, with the first official flight on Tuesday, March 22. Jetstar will be the first new carrier to fly into Rarotonga in the last 10 years, following Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.
The Air New Zealand spokesman says the airline has a long and proud history of flying to the Cook Islands, having operated services between New Zealand and Rarotonga for more than 40 years.
They also operate services between Rarotonga and Los Angeles and Rarotonga and Sydney.
“We’re committed to promoting tourism to the Cook islands. Last year we partnered with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit to film our ‘Safety in Paradise’ safety video in the Cooks.”
They say the safety video and behind the scenes teaser video helped stimulate demand for travel to the Cooks from Auckland, Sydney and Los Angeles and was collectively viewed more than three million times online in the two weeks following its launch.
Air New Zealand did not specify what kind of competition the arrival of Jetstar would spark for airfares, if any.
James Webb, an economic advisor for the Cook Islands Ministry of Finance and Economic Management says there is likely to be a “wait-and see” approach at first. Webb says his first impression is that it will be challenging to distinguish the travellers who are diverted from Virgin or Air New Zealand flights from those who are genuinely “new” travellers.
But, he says it is likely that there will be positive effect on arrivals from both Australia and New Zealand.
“For now, we are likely to adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach, noting that there is a significant upside risk to our tourism forecasts at the time of the 2015-16 Budget.”
In terms of the airline industry, Webb says he is far from an expert, but notes that markets much larger than ours, notably Australia and New Zealand, have struggled to maintain more than two or three airlines.
Therefore, he says it stands to reason that competitive pressure will force the incumbent players to sharpen their pencils if they want to maintain their market share.
Webb says this is particularly true for the peak tourist season from June to September, and especially in July.
“Ultimately, consumers are likely to benefit from greater competition on price, and this is a good thing for the Cook Islands in terms of maintaining the competitiveness of our tourism industry.”