Tigerair Taiwan eyes fall launch

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Apr 15, 2014 - Page 13

Budget carrier Tigerair Taiwan (台灣虎航), a joint venture between Taiwan’s China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空) and Tiger Airways Pte of Singapore, plans to begin operation in October or November, chief executive officer Yue Kwan (關栩) said yesterday.

Kwan — formerly the chief operating officer of Airtropolis GSA Services Pte Ltd — said Tigerair Taiwan will be managed independently, launching its own routes and expanding its own markets.

“It is very clear that Tigerair Taiwan will not be operated [only] as part of CAL,” the Singaporean budget carrier veteran, whose appointment was approved by the venture’s board on Friday last week, said at a press conference.

CAL and Tiger Airways launched the venture in December last year with a paid-in capital of NT$2 billion (US$66.15 million).

CAL holds an 80 percent stake, with Tiger Airways and Mandarin Airlines (華信航空) — a wholly owned subsidiary of CAL — each taking 10 percent.

CAL senior vice president James Yu (余劍博) is set to be chairman.

Kwan said a low-cost carrier may encourage people who before do not fly abroad to travel more, benefiting the airlines sector by raising its market scale, instead of cannibalizing the existing market.

Under the budget airline’s plan, its first route may focus on destinations in Southeast Asia.

Kwan said it is “unlikely” for a carrier to make profits during its first year, but Tigerair Taiwan aims to do so in three years by learning from the experience of Tiger Airways, which has run a route between Singapore and Taipei for years.

Prior to Airtropolis GSA, Kwan, 61, was the chief operating officer of Jetstar Pacific Airlines, a budget carrier in Vietnam belonging to the Jetstar Group. He has also held management positions in Viva Macau Airlines and Jetstar Asia.

To prepare for its launch, Tigerair Taiwan is to recruit 88 crew members from 7,543 applicants later this month, with a starting monthly salary of NT$40,000.

The 1.16 percent acceptance rate will mark the lowest level in history for local airline recruitment.

The new crew will serve on the carrier’s fleet of Airbus SAS’ 320 series aircraft.

The company plans to buy three A320 series planes in its first year of operation, with the fleet expected to total 12 aircraft by the end of 2017, Kwan said.