Jetboating war means discounts for punters

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The battle between two Queenstown jetboat companies continues – this time it’s a price-cutting war.

Kawarau Jet recently introduced discounted rides on the Kawarau River with new brand Superjet after the launch of rival company Thunder Jet last month.

All three brands berth at Queenstown Bay jetties. In a bid to remain competitive, Kawarau Jet’s also slashed its own regular price – from $95 to $75 for an hour-long trip – as well as pitching a sharp $55 price for its cut-price 10-seater Superjet.

Both Kawarau Jet brands are now cheaper than new kid on the block Thunder Jet – co-owned by Neville Kelly, a former Kawarau Jet founder and brother of Kawarau co-owner Shaun Kelly. Thunder Jet charges $79 for an hour-long ride.

Superjet – decked out in white, yellow, blue and red – is joined by another, unmarked boat painted dark orange and black.

Thunder Jet’s Neville Kelly isn’t bothered by Kawarau Jet tactics. “Why don’t they just get on with their job?

“They’re not going to stop us – we’re here for the long term.

“They’re going back to the mid-1990s when undercutting was everywhere – it just doesn’t work.

“They’re just feeling the pinch.”

Thunder Jet co-owner Andre Cockburn adds: “Kawarau Jet has just got to accept they don’t have the monopoly anymore.”

Kawarau Jet co-owner Andy Brinsley says it’s not sour grapes – market conditions have been behind the 
revival of Superjet.

“It’s a competitive market and it’s something we’re doing to attract customers. Everyone’s watching their dollars.

We’re like any other business, we’re keen to generate revenue at this time of year.”

Kawarau Jet holds 10 different historic consents from a number of jetboat operations on the water several years ago.

Superjet will probably stay afloat “if there’s reasonable interest in that price point”, Brinsley says.

Kawarau Jet’s taking legal action to stop Thunder Jet operating – it’s asking the High Court for a judicial review of Queens­town Lakes District Council’s consent to its rival.

The hearing in Christchurch takes place on February 27.

Kawarau Jet’s worries over safety were last month dismissed by Government watchdog Maritime New Zealand, but Brinsley says QLDC and MNZ have agreed to meet his company later this month to hear its concerns.