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JetStar History

In 2001 QANTAS acquired Newcastle based independent Impulse Airlines and began operating its fleet of Boeing 717-200 aircraft under the QANTASLink banner on services to smaller ports along Australia’s east coast.

On 1 December 2003 QANTAS announced the decision to launch a low-cost carrier called JetStar to take on the rapidly expanding Virgin Blue and decided to use the Impulse AOC to speed up the launch. At the official launch of the carrier an order for 23 Airbus A320s was announced.

Unfortunately for QANTAS there was already a virtual airline set up with a website called Jetstar International Airlines who sued in the US claiming copyright and trademark infringement and illegal cyber squatting amongst other matters. The two parties settled out of court.

Initially set up with headquarters at Avalon airport JetStar began services on 25 May 2004 using Boeing 717-200s from the Impulse fleet. Airbus A320 services were launched later the same year.

On 14 December 2004 sister Singapore-based carrier JetStar Asia commenced operations between Singapore and Hong Kong. QANTAS had a 49% stake in the new carrier which announced plans to serve Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Pattaya, Jakarta, Surabaya and Manila. However the Indonesian government refused the airline rights to serve Indonesia which would lead to JetStar Asia taking over Valuair, which did have Indonesian traffic rights in 2005.

Expansion on domestic Australian sectors was rapid and on 1 December 2005 JetStar entered the trans-Tasman international market launching services from Christchurch to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Coolangatta. These services also operated with QANTAS codeshare flight numbers and through baggage checking was permitted between QANTAS international services and the JetStar trans-Tasman services. Trans-Continental services within Australia were also announced with the launch of Avalon - Perth services.

International wide-bodied services were launched with Airbus A330-200 aircraft in 2006 with four aircraft arriving from QANTAS. The initial A330-200 route network saw flights from Melbourne - Bangkok, Denpasar, Hobolulu, from Sydney - Denpasar, Honolulu and Phuket plus a Sydney - Brisbane - Ho Chi Minh City service. A short-lived Sydney - Kuala Lumpur service was also launched. These services saw JetStar launch “Star Class” in the former domestic Business Class cabin.


JetStar launched a new fare structure on 16 May 2011 which saw Star Class re-branded as Business Class. The new structure saw three different Economy and two different Business Class fares on offer.

Late May and early June 2011 saw New Zealand domestic, Australian domestic and trans-Tasman services suspended on several days due to ash from a Chilean volcano drifting into the airspace. During this period Air New Zealand continued to operate leading to a propaganda war between the two carriers.

On 30 June 2011 JetStar signalled its intention to launch JetStar Japan in conjunction with Japan Airlines.

On 12th July 2011 a major expansion for JetStar Asia was announced with the focus being on expansion into China. Landing rights have been secured for a Beijing service and this was announced as a continuation of the A330-200 service from Melbourne to Singapore that will operate from Melbourne - Singapore - Beijing commending 24 November 2011.

As part of the JetStar Asia expansion four Airbus A330-200s are expected to take up Singaporean registrations and the A320 fleet will rise to 17 aircraft.

International expansion is tied to the arrival of the much delayed Boeing 787. These aircraft will allow the airline to commence direct services between Australia and the US as well as services from Singapore to Europe.

In 2006 JetStar began to move further away from the traditional low-cost model with allocated seating being introduced. The facility was added to the JetStar website with passengers able to select seats online at the time of booking with extra fees applying for exit row and front of aircraft seats. It was also during 2006 that JetStar and JetStar Asia services became available on the same website.

2007 saw QANTAS take an 18% stake in Pacific Airlines in Vietnam and the airline was re-launched on 23 May 2008 as JetStar Pacific.

Two new build A330-200s arrived in 2007 and this allowed JetStar to take over the QANTAS services from Cairns to Tokyo Narita and for a short time to Osaka. At this time Coolangatta replaced Brisbane as JetStar’s south Queensland longhaul base and a Sydney - Coolangatta - Tokyo Narita service was launched.

2008 saw a deal signed with the Northern Territory government to make an International hub at Darwin with up to seven aircraft to be based there. This enabled the creation of the Darwin hub operation with flights currently arriving into Darwin late afternoon/early evening from Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne with aircraft going forward to Singapore, Denpasar and Ho Chi Minh City. Passengers arrive into Darwin as domestic passengers and must collect their baggage, check in again and clear customs and immigration before departing Internationally.

Similarly when flights arrive back into Darwin from overseas destinations early in the morning passengers must clear customs and immigration in Darwin before continuing on domestic flights.

2008 saw JetStar Asia and Valuair move into profit for the first time. It was also the year that the larger Airbus A321 was introduced to the mainline JetStar fleet for domestic Australian services and International services from Darwin to Singapore.

On 10 June 2009 JetStar replaced the QANTAS subsidiary JetConnect on domestic services in New Zealand connecting Auckland with Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown and Christchurch with Wellington and Queenstown.

Participation in OneWorld round the world fares commenced on 1 February 2011 enabling passengers to include JetStar flights within the ticket provided flights are booked under the QANTAS codeshare flight numbers.

A new International service linking Singapore and Auckland was launched on 17 March 2011 operated by JetStar Airbus A330-200 aircraft wet-leased to JetStar Asia and flying under JetStar Asia 3K flight numbers.