Jetstar Airways is an Australian low-cost airline headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. It is a subsidiary of Qantas, created in response to the threat posed by low-cost airline Virgin Blue (now known as Virgin Australia). The airline operates an extensive domestic network as well as regional and international services from its main base at Melbourne Airport, using a mixed fleet of Airbus A320 family and Airbus A330 aircraft.
Parent company Qantas also has stakes in sister companies Jetstar Asia Airways and Valuair in Singapore, Jetstar Pacific Airlines in Vietnam and new upcoming carriers in Asia Jetstar Japan and Jetstar Hong Kong. Jetstar shares its parent’s strong competition with Australia’s biggest low-cost carrier Virgin Australia. Both Tiger Airways Singapore and Tiger Airways Australia are also major competitors to Jetstar in the low-cost market.
The airline was established by Qantas in 2003 as a low-cost domestic subsidiary. Qantas had previously acquired Impulse Airlines and operated it under the QantasLink brand from 2001 onwards, but following the decision to launch a low-cost carrier, re-launched the airline under the Jetstar brand. Domestic passenger services began on 25 May 2004, soon after the sale of tickets for her inaugural flight in February 2004. International services to Christchurch, New Zealand, commenced on 1 December 2005. Although owned by Qantas, its management operates largely independent of Qantas through the company formerly known as Impulse Airlines — an airline acquired by Qantas on 20 November 2001.
Originally the airline was headquartered on the grounds of Avalon Airport near Melbourne, and started flying out of Avalon Airport in mid 2004, but has since relocated its registered office to the Melbourne CBD.
Despite its low-cost ethos, Jetstar currently offers a limited number of connecting services without through baggage checking — though this has changed since international flights commenced in November 2006. Baggage connectivity was added as a service offering for domestic flights connecting with international flights.
Reserved seating is currently provided on all routes and on 4 October 2006, Jetstar became the first Australian airline to allow customers to select their seat upon booking.
The first flight of sister airline Jetstar Asia Airways took off from its Singapore hub to Hong Kong on 13 December 2004. This marked Qantas’ entry into the Asian low-cost market and signified its intention to battle key competitor Singapore Airlines on its home ground. Qantas has a 42.5% stake in Jetstar Asia’s ownership.
On 1 December 2005, Jetstar commenced operations from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast to Christchurch in New Zealand. On 7 December 2005, it was announced that Jetstar would establish the world’s first global low-cost airline. At the end of 2005, it was announced that Jetstar would fly to Perth, Western Australia, from Avalon Airport.
In July 2006, Jetstar and Jetstar Asia were brought together under the Jetstar brand. Online bookings for both carriers were integrated into Jetstar.com.
In July 2007, Qantas acquired a 18% stake in Vietnam’s Pacific Airlines, to increase to 30% by 2010. The airline was relaunched on 23 May 2008 as Jetstar Pacific.
On 1 August 2008 Jetstar announced that it had signed an agreement with the Northern Territory Government to make Darwin International Airport an international hub with plans for seven aircraft to be based in Darwin. Under the agreement Jetstar would be required to base three aircraft at Darwin by June 2009, with a further four by June 2012, with the Territory Government to provide A$5 million to set up the hub and a further A$3 million for promotion of the new routes.
On 28 April 2009, Jetstar commenced daily direct services from Auckland to Gold Coast and Sydney. On 10 June the same year Jetstar commenced domestic New Zealand flights between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. Jetstar replaced Jetconnect on these routes using Airbus A320 aircraft.
From 1 February 2011, Jetstar started its co-operation with the oneworld alliance, allowing people booking an itinerary with a full oneworld member to include a Jetstar flight in the itinerary. However, the flight must be sold via Jetstar’s corporate parent Qantas, under a QF flight number.
In August 2011 Jetstar’s parent Qantas announced that it will set up a new airline to be called Jetstar Japan, a joint venture of Jetstar, Japan Airlines, and Mitsubishi. The airline was expected to start operating in December 2012, but now plans to launch ahead of schedule on 3 July 2012.
In March 2012 another Asian Jetstar branded airline was announced, Jetstar Hong Kong, a strategic partnership between the Qantas Group and China Eastern Airlines, which is expected to commence operations in 2013.