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Tue, Dec 07, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Jetstar announces cut-rate flights

BUDGET TRAVEL The Singapore-based carrier will offer flights to Taiwan from US$53, and has chosen Hong Kong and Thailand as its other initial destinations

AP , SINGAPORE

Chief operating officer of Jetstar Asia, Con Korfiatis, second left, speaks to reporters at the launch of the airline's flight routes and ticket prices in Singapore yesterday, while four crew members stand behind him.

PHOTO: AFP

Budget airline Jetstar Asia yesterday announced cut-rate fares to its initial destinations of Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan and said it was seeking rights to fly to India and additional routes to China.

Singapore-based Jetstar Asia Pte Ltd, which is backed by Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd, said a ticket to Hong Kong would start at a promotional S$48 each way (US$29) with service beginning Monday.

A one-way fare to the Thai beach resort of Pattaya would start at S$29 (US$17) beginning a week later, while service from Singapore to Taipei would start on Dec. 16, with the price of a one-way ticket starting at S$88 (US$53).

Jetstar's chief operating officer, Con Korfiatis, also said the airline would begin flying to Shanghai from January, but company officials were also eyeing other Chinese destinations south of the commercial center.

He said the carrier was hoping that Singapore's "very proactive" pursuit of trade deals with China and India would open up the possibility of new routes for Jetstar to those countries.

Korfiatis said the impending free trade deal between the city-state and New Delhi would likely result in new destinations such as Chennai and Mumbai "sooner rather than later" for the budget carrier.

Jetstar Asia is the third low-cost airline to be launched this year out of Singapore after Valuair and Tiger Airways -- backed by Singapore Airlines Ltd.

"We have said from the beginning that our success will depend on our ability to grow the market and by becoming the first low-cost carrier to serve several major population centers,'' Korfiatis said.

The low-cost carrier's four other confirmed destinations -- Shanghai, the Philippines capital of Manila, Surabaya and Jakarta in Indonesia -- would be offered from January.

Korfiatis said earlier Jetstar Asia would differentiate itself from its rivals, including the region's low-budget pioneer, Malaysia's Air Asia Bhd, by flying longer-haul routes.

Singapore's aviation authorities have embraced the growth of low-cost fliers and are building a passenger terminal at Changi Airport specifically for discount airlines. It is set to open in 2006.

Jetstar Asia is 49 percent held by Qantas, Australia's national carrier. Its other significant backers include Temasek Holdings Ltd, the Singapore government's main investment arm, which holds 19 percent.

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