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Based at Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore Airlines is the national carrier of Singapore. Using a fleet of wide-body Boeing and Airbus aircraft, including the A380 of which Singapore Airlines was the launch customer, Singapore Airlines operates an extensive network across Asia, North America, Australasia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Singapore Airlines joined the Star Alliance on 01-Apr-2000.
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Tiger Airways has narrowed its losses in the year to 31-Mar-2013 and extended its operating profit to a second consecutive quarter while forecasting a positive operating result by mid-Jul-2013 after the sale of 60% of Tiger Australia to Virgin Australia is completed.
The carrier also plans to add frequencies to high demand routes between Singapore and Malaysia and expects to take delivery of 10 A320 during the financial year, half of which will be allocated to the Singapore operation and the remainder between Tiger Australia and two associated airlines, Mandala and SEAir.
Tiger Singapore will use the aircraft to increase capacity by about 25% by the end of FY2014 and taking advantage of expanded bilateral rights between Singapore and Indonesia which will also boost Mandala. However, the group still faces significant challenges as it strives to nurture three affiliated carriers in Australia, Malaysia and the Philippines to profitability.
Competition in the Indonesia-Singapore market will intensify in 3Q2013 with Singapore Airlines (SIA) adding capacity while its regional subsidiary SilkAir and low-cost affiliate Tiger Airways each launch services to two new Indonesian destinations. Garuda Indonesia, Tiger affiliate Mandala Airlines and Jetstar are all planning to follow SIA, SilkAir and Tiger in adding capacity in the dynamic Indonesia-Singapore market.
The surge in capacity is in part made possible by a newly expanded bilateral agreement between the two countries. Slot constraints, however, threaten to impede growth for some carriers operating in the market and make it difficult to use newly awarded traffic rights. For example, Indonesia AirAsia has already been set back by slot constraints at Changi Airport in attempts to launch three new routes to Singapore.
Singapore Airlines cements its partnership with Virgin Australia, joining ANZ and challenging Etihad
Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) move to nearly double its holding in Virgin Australia to 19.9% reinforces the SIA Group’s new strategy of focusing more on Asia-Pacific, including the Australian market. The recent purchase of an additional 9.9% stake in Virgin Australia from founding shareholder Virgin Group also dilutes the presence of SIA rival Etihad, which now owns about a 9% stake in Virgin Australia.
Although equity is not the main driver, the increased stake could give the SIA Group an edge as it looks to further deepen its codeshare partnership with Virgin Australia, particularly in the key Australia-Europe market.
Independent Virgin Australia has quickly emerged as SIA’s most significant partner in the two years since the two airline groups first forged a codeshare agreement, a further testament to the waning importance of global alliances. SIA, which is a longstanding member of Star but has traditionally taken a passive role in the alliance, is keen to embed its relationship with Virgin Australia as other current and prospective partners circle.
Virgin Australia has scored an important victory against Qantas in the battle for access to bilateral capacity between Australia and Italy, being awarded 300 of the 1000 weekly seats available on the route.
The Italy decision is likely to set the scene for other markets where Virgin Australia may seek to challenge Qantas’ dominant third country carrier codeshare seat allocation as they come up for review over the next few years. Both carriers are competing for bilateral seat capacity to maximise the benefits of their largely virtual networks to Europe.
Qantas had previously held Australia’s entire codeshare capacity entitlement on the Italy route under two determinations. The carrier had to have the first of these involving 600 seats renewed for a further five years by the Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC). The remaining 400 seats held by Qantas are not due for renewal until 2015, at which point it can expect a further challenge from Virgin Australia.
Virgin Australia on 08-Apr-2013 was granted 300 of the 600 seats available for five years. It will offer the seats between Australia and Rome via Singapore and between Australia and Milan via Singapore and via Abu Dhabi.
Virgin Australia has been granted approval to buy a 60% stake in LCC Tiger Australia by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and in so doing puts in place the final piece of a puzzle that allows Virgin Australia to compete against the Qantas Group on a level footing.
The ACCC agonised over the ground-shifting decision with concerns that returning the Australian market to a duopoly would remove the benefits that Tiger Australia had brought as a third competitor when it launched in Nov-2007. The commission delayed its decision by nearly six weeks while it sought more information from Virgin Australia and Tiger Australia to provide the comfort it needed.
Ultimately ACCC chairman Rod Sims concluded that “this acquisition is unlikely to lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the Australian market for domestic air passenger transport services”.
Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti said: “By partnering with Tiger Airways, we can use our local expertise to build a sustainable budget carrier, which will offer great value airfares and benefit jobs and tourism in Australia.”
The Singapore-India market is poised for a modest increase in capacity, driven by further expansion from the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group made possible by the recent signing of an expanded bilateral between the two countries.
The updated air services agreement only increases the previous capacity allotment for Singapore-based carriers by 10%. But SIA will take whatever it can get as Singapore-India is an important and generally under-served market. Incremental increases are typical with the India-Singapore bilateral, which has been updated several times in recent years, although Singapore would prefer a much bigger and broader agreement.
SIA along with full-service subsidiary SilkAir and low-cost carrier affiliate Tiger Airways already account for over 70% of capacity between India and Singapore. Indian carriers do not require a revised bilateral as they were using less than 40% of the prior allotment. Indian carriers over the last year have seen their share of the market decrease and may see their share drop further by the end of 2013 as the SIA Group again boosts capacity to India.
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