Fri, Dec 17, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Jetstar may offer cheap flights out of Kaohsiung

BUDGET CARRIER After starting low-fare services between Singapore and Taipei yesterday, the airline now plans to add Kaohsiung flights within six months

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

After launching daily roundtrip flights between Taipei and Singa-pore that have triggered price wars with other carriers, budget airline Jetstar Asia yesterday said it is working to offer service between Kaohsiung and the Lion City within the first six months of next year.

"We're very excited to be the first low-cost budget carrier operating in Taiwan and we're eager to show people that there's a new way to fly," said Con Korfiatis, chief operating officer of Singapore-based Jetstar Asia Airways Pte Ltd, at a press conference in Taipei.

The carrier began service to Hong Kong on Monday, to Taipei yesterday and will extend its service network to other destinations -- such as Shanghai, Jakarta, Surabaya and Manila -- beginning next month, Korfiatis said.

"We do not mean to compete with traditional airlines that offer full services on board, but aim at providing passengers with an alternative," he said.

The company has sent shock-waves across the industry after announcing one-way tickets between Taipei and Singapore starting at NT$2,350 -- excluding tax and insurance -- with a promotional price of NT$1,788 offered from yesterday to next Thursday.

Korfiatis said the company can provide attractive fares because some facilities and services offered by other airlines are taken out, including first and business-class cabins, free meals, entertainment facilities and VIP lounges at airports.

Also, Korfiatis said the company has its own booking system, which allows it to save enormous commissions paid when using global distribution systems.

"But a low fare doesn't mean low quality," he said, adding that the carrier is 49 percent owned by Australia's Quantas Airways Ltd and would offer passengers the same level of services and safety as Quantas.

Jetstar is currently using three brand-new Airbus A320s and projects bringing in another five next year, before expanding the entire fleet to 20 aircraft within three years, Korfiatis said.

As fares may fluctuate with market demand, he promised that the price of the Taipei-Singapore route would not rise above NT$7,399 -- 30 percent lower than its competitors' most expensive tickets.

Its first flight to Taipei yesterday was fully booked and the 180-seat plane back to Singapore was 80 percent full, according to Korfiatis.

Addressing the launch ceremony, George Lee (李仲榮), deputy director-general of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, said the government welcomes all kinds of airlines as long as they detail the rules of the game.

"Companies must provide full information to customers and let them know what services they can get, so as to avoid disputes," Lee said.

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