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Thu, Jul 22, 2004 - Page 12 News List

New budget carrier Tiger Airways receives first jet

AFP , SINGAPORE

Singapore's newest budget carrier, Tiger Airways, took delivery of its first jet yesterday and declared it is ready to meet the fast-growing demand for no-frills travel in the Asia Pacific.

Chief executive Patrick Gan conceded competition would be extremely stiff with at least four low-cost carriers, including Tiger, expected to be operating soon out of Singapore.

At the same time, he was confident Tiger Airways, which Singapore Airlines and the Singapore government have major stakes in, would be able to stay ahead of its rivals with tickets as cheap as any of them.

"It's survival of the fittest," Gan said at Changi airport in an event to mark the delivery of Tiger Airways' first jet, an Airbus A320 180-seater.

"We are very well [positioned] with all the expertise and re-sources we have from our shareholders and we have got a long-term business plan to grow and to dominate the region."

Gan said operating costs would be kept to a minimum, with methods to be employed including selling the vast majority of its tickets through its Web site and making passengers pay for food and drinks.

"This is consistent with our philosophy to offer one of the lowest, if not the lowest fares, in the market," he said.

"We intend to be about 40 percent below the fare of the network carriers," he said.

Gan said the carrier was on track to begin commercial flights in the fourth quarter to as-yet un-named destinations.

Tiger Airways aims to fly to between five and 10 destinations by the end of the year, he added.

The carrier is expecting its passenger load to grow 25 percent to 35 percent annually over the next five years and intends to have at least 12 aircraft operating by 2006.

"We look at the environment in the Asia Pacific region ... we know that from past history in America and in Europe, there is a big hunger for low-fare travel," he said.

Tiger Airways will operate from Changi's regular terminal facilities until a dedicated low-cost terminal, which the Singapore government announced on Tuesday it will build, is ready in early 2006.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said the decision to build the terminal was made after Tiger Airways committed last week to using it.

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