New low-cost carrier for south-east Asia

New low-cost carrier for south-east Asia

Passengers in south-east Asia are set to see a new carrier take to the skies early next year following a deal between Thai Airways and Tiger Airways.

The airlines have agreed to form a new low-fare carrier – called Thai Tiger – targeting travellers in the region.

In a joint statement to Singapore Exchange, it was confirmed Thai Airways, majority owned by Thailand’s ministry of finance, will take a 51 per cent stake in the joint venture, while Tiger will own the rest.

Thai Airways will hold three seats and the chairmanship of the Thai Tiger board of directors, while Tiger will hold two seats.

As a major shareholder in Tiger, Singapore Airlines will also play a role.

The new airline will be positioned to fight the growing competition from Qantas owned Jetstar.

“We believe this move will provide revenue opportunities for Thai Airways and allow it to be more competitive in the region with the anticipated growth in the low-cost market as a result of continued Asean air liberalisation policies, which we expect will lead to growth in air travel in the Asian market,” explained Piyasvasti Amranand, president of Thai Airways.

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Suvarnabhumi International

The new airline – to be based in Bangkok - is expected to start operations in the first quarter of 2011.

Thai Tiger will operate international and domestic flights, offering short-haul, point-to-point services within a five-hour flying radius of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in the Thai capital Bangkok.

The companies said low-cost carriers will likely benefit from air liberalisation policies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, expected by 2015.

Further information on the corporate structure of the airline is expected to be confirmed closer to launch.