Wed, Dec 15, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Sky's the limit for Jetstar

BRIGHT FUTURE Jetstar Asia expects to see a profit within the next two years as the Singapore-based discount air carrier adds to its growing flight roster

BLOOMBERG

Cabin crew on a flight from Singapore-registered discount carrier Jet Star Asia gather for a group photo after arriving in Taiwan on a test flight yesterday. Jet Star Asia, which is initiating a price war, launched its brand new 180-seat Airbus 320 aircraft. Services between Taipei and Singapore are scheduled to begin tomorrow.

PHOTO: YAO CHIEH-HSIU, TAIPEI TIMES

Jetstar Asia, the international budget unit of Qantas Airways Ltd, said it expects to make a profit in one to two years.

The Singapore-based airline, which on Monday started flights to Hong Kong, will be profitable "within a short period of time," Con Korfiatis, Jetstar Asia's chief operating officer, said in a television interview in Hong Kong yesterday.

Jetstar Asia is the third low-cost airline to operate out of Singapore after privately-owned Valuair and Tiger Airways, which is controlled by Singapore Airlines Ltd. It also faces competition from other budget carriers in the region including Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia Bhd and Bangkok-based 1-2-Go.

Passenger traffic in Southeast Asia, which has a combined population of about 500 million people, is forecast to grow an average 6.1 percent each year until 2023, compared with a global average of 5.2 percent, according to Boeing Co, the world's second-largest maker of commercial planes.

Jetstar Asia will start daily flights to Taipei on tomorrow. The company will offer a one-way ticket between Singapore and Taipei priced at NT$1,788, excluding tax and insurance. The offer is good for the first week it flies the route. Ticket prices will then be raised, depending on market demand.

Jetstar Asia will also start daily flights to Pattaya in Thailand on Dec. 20 and plans to start services to cities including Shanghai, Jakarta and Manila from January.

"We're interested in more destinations in China. We're also interested in Vietnam and more destinations in Thailand and Indonesia," Korfiatis said.

The airline, which is starting operations with four leased Airbus SAS A320s, will have another four by the end of next year.

The A320 can seat 150 passengers and has a maximum range of 4,800km.

Singapore's Temasek Holdings Pte, a state-owned investment company, owns 19 percent of Jetstar Asia. Singapore businessmen Tony Chew and Wong Fong Fui hold a combined 32 percent stake.

Temasek, which is the majority shareholder of Singapore Airlines, also holds 11 percent of Tiger Airways.

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