Qantas Chief Executive Officer Geoff Dixon today announced that Australian Airlines would commence operations in October 2002.
Mr Dixon said Australian Airlines had been given the go-ahead after achieving a satisfactory cost structure and completing negotiations with various unions regarding wages, conditions and work practices.
He said the first stage of the new airline`s operations would involve phasing in services between Cairns and Osaka, Fukuoka, Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong and Nagoya between late October and December.
“The first flights will commence on 27 October, and bookings will open in May,” Mr Dixon said.
“This is great news for the Australian tourism industry, particularly in light of the damaging effects of the events of 11 September 2001 and the collapse of Ansett.
“Australian Airlines will provide thousands of jobs for Australians as well as an important growth opportunity for Qantas.
“We will begin recruiting for Australian Airlines in the middle of the year and, given the circumstances surrounding the industry today, we will give priority to suitable former Ansett employees.”
Mr Dixon said the airline was on track to commence its second stage of operations, focusing on the outbound market from Australia, in early 2003.
“This will involve flying from a second base in a southern Australian capital city to a number of ports including Phuket in Thailand and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia,” he said.
“Australian Airlines will not compete with Qantas. It will operate on routes Qantas has withdrawn from or on routes where Qantas has been unable to extract a satisfactory return.
“It will be a full service international leisure carrier, operating one aircraft type and offering a single high level of service including meals and snacks, the most modern comfortable seating, and inflight entertainment.”
Australian Airlines will: - Initially operate with four Boeing 767-300 aircraft, building to a fleet of 12 767-300s; - Offer daily connecting flights for international passengers between its first operational base in Cairns and the Gold Coast; - Be headquartered in Sydney; - Establish a national presence as quickly as possible and eventually fly to every Australian mainland capital including Perth and Darwin; - Participate in the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.
Australian Airlines is wholly-owned by Qantas Airways Limited but managed separately, under Australian Airlines Chief Executive Denis Adams, and operating independently of Qantas.