Tigerair sets Taiwan-Singapore flights

Taiwan's first low-cost carrier, Tigerair Taiwan, said Monday it will begin flights between Taipei and Singapore by the end of this month, seeking to expand to its presence from the already competitive budget airline business in Southeast Asia to that in Northeast Asia.

Kwan Yue, chief executive officer of the Singapore-based Tigerair Group, told a press conference in Taipei that Tigerair Taiwan - a joint venture between Taiwan's China Airlines and Singapore's largest budget carrier Tigerair - will launch its maiden flight between Taipei and Singapore on Sept 26 and expand into the LCC markets of Japan and South Korea next year.

Initially, Tigerair Taiwan will have only one aircraft providing seven flights a week between Taoyuan and Singapore, but Mr Kwan said two or three planes will be added to the service within the next couple of months.

"Our goal is to expand the number of aircraft to 12 in two to three years," he said.

The low-cost carrier business is one of the world's fastest growing airline markets. While the penetration rate of sector in Northeast Asia is about 7%-8%, Kwan estimated that the growth for the next five to 10 years will be 30%.

If Tigerair Taiwan could increase the number of planes to eight to 10 planes in the second year of its operation, it should start to make profit, Mr Kwan said.

The Tigerair Group saw its losses widen in the quarter ending March 31, with all of the group's overseas subsidiaries or affiliates continuing to report losses.

Established in 2004, Tigerair is a part of the Singapore Airlines Group and flies to 50 destinations in 13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Tigerair Taiwan spokesman Eric Lee said China Airlines decided to partner with the Tigerair Group because it is time to offer Taiwanese travellers one more option of affordable services.

Mr Lee said Tigerair Taiwan will not cut into China Airlines' business because China Airlines is a traditional carrier focusing on Southeast Asia and Tigerair Taiwan is a low-cost carrier targeting Northeast Asia.

China Airlines, Taiwan's biggest carrier, was founded in 1959 and flies to 109 destinations in 29 countries, including cargo and code-sharing services.

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