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    Dec 17, 2013

    Tigerair spreads its wings in Asia

    BUDGET carrier Tigerair yesterday announced three new agreements with other airlines in a move to expand its network in key Asian markets, such as India.

    The low-cost carrier will partner China Airlines to establish a new Taiwan-based budget carrier named Tigerair Taiwan.

    It has also signed a three-year deal with Indian budget carrier SpiceJet, which will allow passengers to travel to and from 14 Indian cities to Singapore via Hyderabad from next month. The interline arrangement will allow passengers connecting to flights on either of the airlines to transfer without having to check in their luggage again.

    Tigerair plans to better align its flights with budget carrier Scoot to offer local travellers more flexibility and flight options.

    Tigerair will own a 10 per cent stake in Tigerair Taiwan, which will have a paid-up capital of about NT$2 billion (S$85 million). The joint venture will operate under the Tigerair brand and use Tigerair's website as its main sales platform. It will be run by a separate board and management team.

    Tigerair Group chief executive Koay Peng Yen said the new budget airline is expected to start flying next year and will target China, Korea, Japan and South-east Asia. He added that the airline will start using Tigerair's Airbus A320 jets and grow its fleet to 12 aircraft in two to three years.

    Analyst Brendan Sobie from the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation said the new airline gives Tigerair another outlet for expansion from Taiwan, which is under-used by low-cost carriers. He noted that while the low stake means low risk, "if there are future disagreements, having 10 per cent doesn't give much say at the board level".

    Tigerair and Scoot will submit an application to the Competition Commission of Singapore for anti-trust immunity after agreeing to expand on their alliance. If approved, the airlines could jointly operate and sell parallel routes, as well as align policies and pricing.

    Separately, Scoot - the fully-owned budget offshoot of Singapore Airlines - announced that it would form a new low-cost airline with Thai carrier Nok Air. The new airline will be named NokScoot and be based at Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok.

    It will operate wide-body aircraft on medium- and long-haul international routes and have an initial investment of 2 billion baht (S$78 million). Details about its fleet, products and route network will be announced later.