Tigerair Australia bares its teeth at Brisbane

“Listen Julieanne, we made the decision to base two aircraft at Brisbane because of the big five Australian airports, it had the lowest LCC penetration of them all,” is perhaps the sort of thing Tigerair Australia CEO Rob Sharp might have said to Brisbane Airport CEO and MD Julieanne Alroe, before he told his crew and the gathered media. 

Tigerair Australia will make Brisbane Airport its third Australian base next spring, when it stations two A320s in the Queensland state capital to complement its existing operation from there to its other two hubs in Sydney and Melbourne. The move is the latest attack by Tigerair Australia on Qantas’ LCC offshoot, Jetstar Airways, directed no doubt by the former’s majority shareholder Virgin Australia, which is following its own twin-product strategy in the Australian domestic market — a move that will increasingly see all four airlines going head-to-head on trunk routes.

Commenting on the announcement, Brisbane Airport General Manager Airline and Commercial Businesses Andrew Brodie said: “The decision by Tigerair to open a new base at Brisbane is a huge win for travellers, the city and the state. It is also an important recognition for Brisbane as a key aviation hub, allowing the airline to stimulate the low cost travel market and help to grow key destinations and routes.”

Equal split on Brisbane-Darwin frequencies

The carrier’s initial based operation will feature daily services to Cairns and Darwin, as well as six weekly flights to Adelaide. While on flights to Darwin the LCC will offer the same weekly frequency as the three incumbents, giving all four airlines an equal 25% of all flights, its share to Cairns will be just 8% and marginally better to Adelaide at 10%.

Route Jetstar Airways Qantas Tigerair Australia Virgin Australia
Brisbane-Adelaide 7 25 6 25
Brisbane-Cairns 21 28 7 35
Brisbane-Darwin 7 7 7 7
Source: Innovata / Diio Mi w/c 1-7 March 2014; Tigerair Australia website

The Brisbane based units will also provide extra capacity on the key existing connections to Sydney and Melbourne. Tigerair Australia also used the Brisbane base announcement to launch daily flights between Sydney and Adelaide, where again it will be up against the three incumbents of Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia.

Qantas/Jetstar set to still dominate — just

Prior to Tigerair Australia’s announcement, Qantas and Jetstar commanded 59% of the Adelaide market from Brisbane (assuming the incumbents maintain capacity for w/c 1-7 March, as at 9 December), but in the enlarged market of next April, it will see the pairing have its capacity market share cut to 53%. On Cairns, the market share drop is six percentage points, from 62% to 56%, but it is on Darwin where Qantas/Jetstar will feel the pain the most, falling from 71% to 55% by the middle of next April.

Tigerair Australia's Brisbane Airport base  Seat share

Source: Innovata / Diio Mi w/c 1-7 March 2014; Tigerair Australia website

Increasing LCC penetration

Tigerair Australia’s CEO Rob Sharp said the airline’s decision to open the Brisbane base was founded on network analysis and passenger demand (makes a change from the normal guesswork then?), and would ”address an under-served budget market”. Part of this network analysis was an evaluation of the level of penetration of LCCs at Australia’s biggest airports as ”our fares have been proven to stimulate markets and we strongly believe in the potential this new base presents,” said Sharp. Looking at the table below, he wasn’t wrong in this theory.

Airport LCC Share of seats Serving LCCs
Melbourne 26% AirAsia X, Jetstar Airways, Tigerair Australia
Adelaide 20% AirAsia X, Jetstar Airways, Tigerair Australia
Sydney 19% AirAsia X, Jetstar Airways, Scoot, Tigerair Australia
Perth 17% AirAsia X, Indonesia AirAsia, Jetstar Airways, Jetstar Asia Airways, Scoot, Tigerair Singapore, Tigerair Australia
Brisbane 13% Jetstar Airways, Tigerair Australia
Source: Innovata / Diio Mi w/c 1-7 March 2014

Looking at Brisbane’s LCC share of seats just six weeks later (w/c 15-21 April) following the arrival of the Tigerair Australia base, the airport’s two low-cost carriers will deliver 17% of all seats, matching that experienced in Perth, and well on the way to reaching #3, Sydney.

Where next for Tigerair Australia?

Clearly the Australian public is keen for this radical shake-up of the domestic market, as indicated recently by one Tigerair Australia’s Facebook followers, and like Ryan, we hope to be kept ‘in the loop’ by the airline too.

Tigerair Australia facebook comment


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