Tiger Airways, the Singapore-based low-cost airline, plans to enter the domestic Australian market with the establishment of a new carrier to compete directly with the local duopoly of Qantas and Virgin Blue.
Tony Davis, chief executive, said the move was a further step in Tiger’s strategy to establish a pan-Asian low-cost aviation group using a common brand and common business model.
Tiger, which is owned 49 per cent by Singapore Airlines and 11 per cent by Temasek, the Singapore government investment group, is moving into a liberal Australian domestic aviation regime, which places no restrictions on the foreign ownership of domestic airlines.
Tiger has previously announced plans for a commercial partnership with SEAir, a small Philippines operator of turboprop aircraft, which will lease two Airbus A320 jets from the Singapore carrier for the development of a low-cost airline business using the Tiger brand.
It is following the path pioneered by Malaysia’s Air-Asia, the leading low-cost carrier in the Asia-Pacific region, which has also expanded by setting up partner airlines in Thailand and Indonesia using a common brand.
Mr Davis said Tiger was ready to offer “genuine low fares, competing in a market, which has returned to a cosy duopoly and seen fares increase”.
Tiger Airways, which started flying from its main Singapore base in September 2004, launched its first route into the Australian market to Darwin in December 2005 and is planning to open a second route between Singapore and Perth next month.
The low-cost airline market in Australia is dominated by Virgin Blue, started by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in September 2000 from a base in Brisbane, and by Jetstar, a subsidiary of Qantas, which started flying domestically in May 2004 and has its headquarters in Melbourne.
Virgin Blue is majority-owned by Toll, the Australian freight transport group, but Sir Richard still holds a minority stake.
The planned move by Tiger into Australia mirrors a similar earlier move by Jetstar, the Qantas subsidiary, into Singapore, where it established Jetstar Asia, as a 49.9 per cent owned affiliate.
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