Tiger ready to leap beyond Singapore

As Tiger Airways approaches its third birthday there are signs that the airline is ready to become a more dynamic player in the Asian LCC market. Having launched services from Singapore in September 2004 with just two A320s (configured with 180 seats), the airline has grown steadily rather than dramatically.

Image: Tiger Airways
Tiger Airways was the first airline to commit to using Changi⁽s Budget Terminal, which opened in March 2006.

Many markets not fully liberalised

With no domestic traffic, the airline is reliant on international traffic, which is still largely controlled by bilateral agreements. Therefore, gaining access to new markets has been a slow and frequently laborious process requiring great diplomatic skills.

For this summer Tiger’s network consists of 17 routes, 16 between Singapore and various destinations and one linking Macau to Clark Field in the Philippines. Of these 17 routes, 11 are served at least daily, though the highest frequency is just three daily flights on the highly competitive Singapore-Bangkok route.

Access to mainland China was granted last year and the airline now serves Guangzhou, Haikou and Shenzhen, as well as the special region of Macau. Currently, access to Beijing and Shanghai is not permitted for any LCC, but this may change in a couple of years.

There are no routes to Malaysia at present as the Malaysian authorities are reluctant to open up their markets when they feel they are getting very little in return. The most recent new route is to Perth, a five and a half hour one-way trip, which is operated daily. This complements the existing service to Darwin, which operates five days per week.

Summer 2007 – not yet fully utilising all aircraft

An exclusive anna.aero rotation analysis suggests that not all aircraft are being fully utilised this summer, at least, not for Tiger Airways scheduled operations.

Table: Tiger Airways in Singapore

As is common among European LCCs, some routes share aircraft time on alternate days of the week. For example the two Thai routes to Chiang Mai and Udon Thani operate on alternate days on aircraft 3. The recently announced Indian routes to Chennai (four times weekly) and Kochi (three times weekly) do not start until the beginning of the winter season.

Fleet Growth – steady so far but getting faster

For summer 2005 the fleet doubled to four aircraft and last April it reached six with the delivery of its first factory delivered aircraft. It now operates nine aircraft and is expected to grow by three further aircraft before the end of the year. By the end of 2010 it should have 20 aircraft and recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for 30 orders and 20 options to be delivered between 2011 and 2014.

Australia here we come!

Attempts to create subsidiaries in the region have proved problematic so far. A plan to create a joint venture with SEAir to operate a base at Clark Field in the Philippines has not yet reached fruition. However, the plans to enter the Australian domestic market are now more definite.

Australia’s authorities allow foreign-owned airlines to be based in Australia as long as they only operate domestically or to New Zealand. Tiger is exploiting this and has revealed Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport as its first base in Australia. The first route will operate to Darwin from where connections can be made to Singapore with Tiger’s existing route.

In 2006, this route ranked 47th in Australia with 116,500 passengers (Source: BTRE). Existing carriers on the route are:

Airline Frequency Seats/aircraft
Jetstar 7 177
Qantas 2 168
Virgin Blue 3 144
Source: OAG Max

Image: Tiger adTiger will be adding over 50% capacity onto this route against the two main low-cost competitors in the Australian domestic market. The other domestic routes revealed so far include three times daily service to the Gold Coast, plus four times weekly services to Mackay (OOL) and Rockhampton (ROK).

Within a short space of time Tiger expects to have five aircraft based in Australia. It may just be coincidence but a short time after hearing Tiger’s plans Virgin Blue, the not-as-low-cost-as-we-were competitor, announced it was exploring the idea of launching a new Ôultra-low-cost’ subsidiary.

At anna.aero we shall be reporting on developments as and when they occur.


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