Asian low-cost carrier Tigerair is boosting its Australian fleet and opening a base in the Queensland capital, Brisbane. The carrier will station two Airbus A320s at Brisbane International Airport from next year, its third base in the country. It is the first phase of an expansion that will see the low-cost carrier double its total fleet to at least 22 aircraft by 2018 and will add an extra 800,000 annual seats within Australia.
The arrival of the two aircraft in March and April 2014 will facilitate the launch of new routes from Brisbane to Adelaide (six times weekly from March 11, 2014), Cairns and Darwin (both daily from April 15, 2014) and enable frequencies to be increased on its existing services to Melbourne and Sydney. Elsewhere, a new daily link between Sydney and Adelaide will also be introduced from March 11, 2014 and a three times weekly link between Sydney and Proserpine, the main gateway for travellers to and from the Whitsunday area, from April 1, 2014.
According to Tigerair chief executive officer, Rob Sharp, an analysis of consumer demand had shown that budget travel options at Brisbane had lagged behind other major airports. Its data shows budget travel accounted for just 19 per cent of overall Brisbane Airport capacity compared with 33 per cent in Melbourne and 26 per cent in Sydney.
"We are responding to this demand for budget travel," he added. "This is a significant milestone for our airline, which is embarking on its future Australian expansion as planned. This announcement is great news for consumers and for the economy providing a welcome shot in the arm for domestic tourism across Australia. When the airline rebranded in July this year, we promised more choice for consumers."
The management at Brisbane International Airport have welcomed the news on Tigerair’s expansion plans. Its chief executive officer and managing director, Julieanne Alroe said the new service would almost double the carrier's seat capacity into Brisbane and generate over 120 new local jobs.
“The decision by Tigerair to set up a base at Brisbane is important recognition for Brisbane as a key aviation hub, allowing the airline to stimulate the low cost travel market and help to grow existing and new key destinations and routes,” she said.
With Tigerair’s new Brisbane base and the additional services announced today 59 per cent of the airline’s capacity will touch Queensland. The carrier is currently the sixth largest operator at Brisbane International Airport with a 2.6 per cent share of the total scheduled seat capacity in 2013. It will compete directly with Jetstar Airways, Qantas and Virgin Australia in all three markets.