Wed, May 18, 2016 - Page 14 News List

Budget carriers form pact to share booking platforms


Eight Asian low-cost carriers, including subsidiaries of Japan’s ANA Holdings Inc and Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA), have formed a landmark alliance allowing travelers to book flights across their platforms for the first time.

In a statement on Monday, the group, Value Alliance, said passengers will be able to book more than 160 destinations via the Web sites of ANA’s Vanilla Air, SIA’s Scoot and Tiger Airways, Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd’s Tiger Airways Australia, Thailand’s Nok Airlines PCL and NokScoot, Cebu Air Inc’s Cebu Pacific and South Korea’s Jeju Air Co.

The alliance, which excludes bigger budget carriers like AirAsia Bhd, will increase the geographical reach of its members by using the strength of each partner’s Web site in its home market, Campbell Wilson, chief executive officer of the medium-haul airline Scoot, told reporters in Singapore.

“We are doing this for our own strategic reasons,” Wilson said, when asked if AirAsia and Jetstar had been invited. “The fact that you don’t see the others here speaks for itself.”

Value Alliance also excludes Indonesia’s Lion Air and India’s IndiGo.

The goal is to bring together smaller airlines as an alternative to the AirAsia and Jetstar branded groups across the region, according to people in the industry.

In a single transaction, travelers can select seats, meals and baggage allowances across the Web sites.

However, the cooperation will not be as extensive as full-service partnerships such as Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam. Those programs feature extensive codesharing agreements, access to a network of waiting lounges and the ability to redeem points on partner flights.

Deeper partnerships including cooperation across frequent flyer programs, joint sales and marketing, and coordination on network and prices requires regulatory approval, and are not on the cards, Wilson said.

Boeing Co’s global market outlook last year showed Asian low-cost carriers generated average annual growth of 24.5 percent over the previous decade, compared with European peers’ 13.4 percent.

Taiwan's two budget carriers — Tigerair Taiwan (台灣虎航) and V Air (威航) — said they would watch the development of the new alliance and its impact on their operations, and did not rule out the option of joining the alliance when needed.

Additional reporting by CNA

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