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Old June 22nd, 2005, 03:11 AM   #981
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Ryanair launches new routes to France and Poland
21 June 2005

LONDON (AFX) - Ryanair Holdings PLC, the Irish based budget airline, has launched new routes to Grenoble in France, Lodz and Poznan in Poland aswell as Kaunas in Lithuania, which it announced yesterday.

The flights will begin in the Autumn from Stansted airport in Essex.

The budget airliner is also increasing the frequency of its flights to Riga, Tampere, Derry, Seville and Granada.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary said: 'We launched our first route in Poland just three months ago from Stansted to Wroclaw and with these two new routes to Lodz and Poznan, Ryanair will serve more Polish airports directly from London than any other airline.'
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Old June 24th, 2005, 07:36 PM   #982
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Ryanair sticks to 10% growth forecast
Jane O'Sullivan, Markets Correspondent
22 June 2005
Irish Times

Ryanair said yesterday that, despite soaring oil prices, it is sticking to expectations that it can deliver earnings growth of 10 per cent this year.

The low-cost airline, which announced four new routes out of London's Stansted airport yesterday, conceded that its fuel bill would be higher than expected if oil prices stay at their current record highs near $60 (€49.28) a barrel.

But Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said the company's guidance, which is for net income of €295 million, was unchanged. He also noted that while Ryanair's fuel costs would be higher, the impact on its competitors would be greater still. He predicted that rising fuel costs would lead to further hikes in fuel surcharges by full-service airlines, sending more passengers to the low-cost sector.

"The bloodbath in Europe, it is continuing and will get worse at $60 a barrel," he said yesterday. "It is not pretty out there. If oil stays at $60 per barrel over the next 12 months, most of Europe's airlines will show enormous losses."

Mr O'Leary was speaking at the announcement of four new routes from Stansted airport. From the autumn, the airline will begin flying to Grenoble in France, to Kaunas in Lithuania and to Poznan and Lodz in Poland. The airline has also increased the frequency of its services from Stansted to Derry, Seville, Granada, Riga and Tampere. The new routes and additional frequencies should result in an additional 650,000 passengers per annum, Ryanair said.

The airline, which set up its first route to Poland just three months ago, will now service seven Polish airports directly from London.

NCB noted that Ryanair was taping the lucrative migrant worker flows between the EU accession countries and the core EU states.

"This is a market that the group has a strong history in as the business was originally built on worker flows between Ireland and the UK," said NCB analyst Shane Matthews.

Mr O'Leary added that Ryanair would not be joining the sustainable aviation group set up this week by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet, aimed at cracking down on pollution, noise and harmful emissions.

Shares in Ryanair closed three cent lower at €6.30 last night.
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Old June 26th, 2005, 04:26 AM   #983
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babystan03
June 20, 2005

AIR TRAVEL
Falling fares fuel short getaways
Budget carriers and price war are changing the way that Singaporeans travel

By Arthur Poon and Krist Boo
........

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
Such a nice time to travel.....
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Old June 29th, 2005, 10:53 AM   #984
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29 June 2005

Singapore's Tiger Airways buys Airbus planes for US$500m

SINGAPORE - Singapore's budget carrier Tiger Airways said Wednesday it would buy eight A320 planes from European aircraft maker Airbus for US$500 million.

The first two aircraft are scheduled for delivery in March 2006, and another three in the third quarter of that year, the carrier said in a statement. The final three planes are scheduled for delivery in 2007.

Tiger Airways, which is 49-percent owned by Singapore Airlines, will have a fleet of 12 A320s when the deliveries are completed. The carrier currently flies to Indonesia, Macau, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

"Tiger Airways has met its business target in the first 10 months of operations," the carrier's chief executive Tony Davis said.

"The board of directors has endorsed our plans to expand services by Tiger Airways in the region. We anticipate Tiger Airways will carry four to five million passengers a year."

The A320 is popular with low-cost carriers worldwide, accounting for 81 percent of all aircraft ordered last year by discount airlines, according to Airbus. - AFP/ir

Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.
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Old June 29th, 2005, 12:05 PM   #985
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29 June 2005
Tiger Airways to set up bases outside Singapore

By Yip Siew Joo

Singapore low cost carrier, Tiger Airways is seriously looking at setting up bases outside Singapore, to tap markets such as China.

CEO Tony Davis says Tiger Airways is already in negotiations with a number of potential partners.

This will give the carrier a wider geographical coverage and access to domestic markets.

He adds that Tiger Airways can operate to China from these regional bases, as the travel distance is shorter, as compared to launching flights from Singapore.

Mr Davis also says that Tiger Airways will also explore forming a joint venture with a partner not related to the airline industry.

"Most important thing is to find the right partner. We're going to grow this airline. and we know that there's limited capacity in Singapore given the population size and the number of traffic rights. If we can grow faster by having parallel operations outside of Singapore, that's what we are looking to achieve."

Mr Davis says the airline has been in talks with regional governments on structural arrangements.

He stressed that Singapore will remain Tiger Airways' primary base.

It's also committed to using the low cost terminal being built at Changi.

Mr Davis was speaking at the launch of the carrier's revamped brand name.

The airline is adding "dot-com" to its logo, mainly to direct more people to book their tickets online.

Tiger Airways recently bought eight new planes and will launch them into service progressively.

It expects to carry up to 5 million passengers a year when its fleet of 12 aircraft are in service.

Copyright © 2005 MediaCorp Radio Internet Development Unit
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Old June 29th, 2005, 01:15 PM   #986
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Business Times - 29 Jun 2005

Valuair, Jetstar discuss possibility of alliance

Talks understood to have gone on for several weeks

By VEN SREENIVASAN AND JOYCE KOH

(SINGAPORE) In a sign of what could be the first in a wave of consolidation in the low-cost airline industry, Singapore-based discount carrier Valuair and Qantas' Singapore low-cost associate Jetstar Asia are in talks about a possible alliance.

Valuair director Arthur Lee confirmed that the two were in talks, but he declined to go into details about the discussions.

'We are in talks to explore any form of cooperation,' he said when contacted yesterday. 'Our sheet of paper is blank and our discussions are wide ranging.'

Jetstar Asia's chief executive, Ken Ryan, said the two sides were looking for synergistic benefits. 'We are exploring all sorts of ways we can work together or cooperate with each other,' he said.

BT understands that the talks have been going on for several weeks.

Industry insiders suggested that the talks could lead to either some kind of cooperative code-share arrangement, an equity swap or even a merger between the two budget carriers.

Valuair was founded by a group of shareholders led by its chairman Lim Chin Beng. But currently its biggest single shareholder is Malaysian-listed Star Cruises, which injected some $15 million into the company last year.

Jetstar Asia, which started operating last December, is 49 per cent owned by Qantas. Temasek Holdings has a 19 per cent stake, while 22 per cent is held by Singaporean businessman and Del Monte chairman Tony Chew. Another 10 per cent is owned by businessman FF Wong.

The two airlines are holding talks as regional budget carriers continue to struggle to make money amid rising fuel costs and reluctance by regional governments to open up their skies to foreign carriers.

Jetstar Asia deferred taking delivery of four aircraft due to arrive this year after it failed to secure critical new routes to China and Indonesia.

Indonesia, in particular, made no pretence about its protectionist instincts when it slapped a blanket ban on all foreign budget airlines in April, saying it needed to protect its home-grown players, especially flag carrier Garuda.

Jetstar Asia also had to pull out of Pattaya in Thailand as load plunged following the Dec 26 tsunami.

Valuair, which celebrated its first anniversary in May, has also had a tough time trying to fill its planes amid stiff price-cutting competition from some full-service carriers.

Analysts note that an alliance between the two carriers is not such a far-fetched possibility, given that their products are more similar to each other's than those of low-cost rivals AirAsia or Tiger Airways.

Both Valuair and Jetstar Asia offer a 20kg baggage allowance and allocated seats. They also fly four Airbus A320 planes each. And while only Valuair offers simple meals, it would not be difficult for Jetstar Asia to do the same.

Analysts say Valuair, which has raised almost $40 million from individual shareholders and Star Cruises, would benefit from Jetstar Asia's stronger shareholder base.

'Jetstar may have some publicised problems but it has stronger key shareholders and is backed by a very profitable airline (Qantas),' said Seah Hiang Hong of Kim Eng Research.

'Valuair's model is sandwiched between the full-service model and the low-cost model, and with rising oil prices and lack of strong shareholder backing, it could have a tougher time in the longer run.'

Any new capital - if indeed the two are headed for a merger - would come in useful for the discount carrier, which is contemplating spreading its wings to the medium-haul market using wide-body planes. Its chairman, Lim Chin Beng, recently told BT that his company was 'seriously studying' possible services to eastern Australia, which could include the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The company has already applied for Etops (extended twin engine operations) certification which allows twin-engine planes like the A320 to travel long distances over stretches of water or large uninhabited land masses where there are no airports.

Even if the two companies are not headed for a merger, they would benefit immensely from a cooperative arrangement. At the very least, a code share or interline arrangement would enable both airlines to offer customers multiple daily flights to eight destinations in Asia.

But despite Valuair and Jetstar Asia's attempts to play down suggestions of an equity link-up, some analysts remain convinced that this is where they are headed.

'There are too many players,' said Kevin Scully, managing director of NetResearch Asia. 'Phase One is survivability, but the capital available is probably shrinking faster because of price-cutting and high energy costs. (Malaysia's) AirAsia has access to the capital market now with its listing and Tiger Airways has a strong parent in Singapore Airlines.

'As for Jetstar, it probably figures it is easy to partner someone who is already established so that it can leapfrog over the other players and move up Valuair's learning curve.'



Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.

Tiger Airways doesn't intend to form an alliance with local airline


Tiger Airways says it doesn't intend to form an alliance with a local airline --

This is a plan that its two Singapore-based rivals are said to be considering..

A news report said ValuAir and Jetstar Asia have been in talks to explore any form of co-operation and look for synergistic benefits.

Asked about the development today, CEO Tony Davis says Tiger Airways will not pursue a similar plan.

He didn't want to be drawn into commenting if this would mark a consolidation among budget airlines here.

"In any joining of businesses, you have to ask what you get out of it. The airplanes are leased, the traffic rights, as I understand it, would have to be returned to the government for reallocation. What assets? what brand? I don't know. It doesn't worry me. We feel we are already stronger than our competitors locally."

Copyright © 2005 MediaCorp Radio Internet Development Unit
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Old June 29th, 2005, 02:43 PM   #987
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29 June 2005

Valuair, JetStar Asia not likely to merge

By Karen Tay

A merger between two Singapore-based budget carriers, Valuair and JetStar Asia is not likely to happen.

Some analysts told 938Live a code share or interline arrangement between the two airlines is a more viable option.

Chief Correspondent at Orient Aviation Magazine, Tom Ballantyne, says a union between the two will not work out as both have different business models.

"Valuair has never pretended to be a true low cost model. It wants to carry cargo, it wants to give its passengers a certain level of service. Whereas JetStar Asia is far closer to a true low cost airline model. So they both have to come and meet somewhere in the middle, if they were to actually merge. I don't think JetStar is throwing away its model and suddenly become a Valuair and vice versa."

Instead, Mr Ballantyne reckons an interline arrangement is what the two are looking for.

Under such an arrangement, passengers from one carrier can hop onto the other airline, which flies to cities the first carrier doesn't fly to.

Valuair flies to certain destinations in which JetStar doesn't, and vice versa.

They include Perth, Jakarta, Manila, Chengdu and Xiamen.

On the other hand, Standard & Poor's Editorial Director, Shukor Yusof thinks a code share system between the two is a more possible form of partnership.

"Both carriers flying to destinations that provide the highest load factors. As I understand both carriers are struggling to fill in the planes in some of the places they fly to. So that's one immediate area where they could work together."

When contacted by 938Live, Valuair's Director, Jimmy Lau declined to say what kind of alliance it's exploring with JetStar.

Singapore's budget carriers have been bleeding and are not likely to break-even in their first year of operations due to intense competition.

Copyright © 2005 MediaCorp Radio Internet Development Unit
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Old June 30th, 2005, 05:03 AM   #988
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June 30, 2005
Budget airlines: Bigger, more planes
To survive, two may merge, while another will buy eight more jets

By Arthur Poon

THE shape of the crowded budget airline industry here is set to change with fewer but bigger low-cost airlines running larger fleets.

The 'size matters' strategy was evident when the media announced a possible merger between Valuair and Jetstar Asia.

It was also clear when Tiger Airways said yesterday it would spend US$500 million (S$835 million) buying eight new planes, tripling its fleet to 12 by 2007.

Supporting the 'size matters' argument, Qantas-backed Jetstar yesterday said that 'Jetstar Asia and Valuair are exploring a variety of ways that they can work together or cooperate with each other'.

This confirmed a report in The Business Times newspaper yesterday that both airlines are discussing the possibility of an alliance.

While a cooperative code-share arrangement or an equity swop were suggested, a merged Valuair and Jetstar entity will effectively double their existing fleet size to eight A320 planes - twice the number each now have.

Tiger's first two aircraft purchases will be delivered in March next year, and a further three in the third quarter of the same year. The final three are scheduled for delivery in 2007.

Said Tiger's chief executive Tony Davis: 'We anticipate Tiger Airways will carry between four and five million passengers a year when we have all 12 of our A320 aircraft in service.'

It now flies over a million passengers to 10 cities in six countries, and plans to add 'two or three routes in the next few weeks'.

Tiger is also planning to explore possible partnerships outside Singapore, and yesterday hinted it may seek a secondary base in Asia to tap markets such as China.

On the need for market consolidation, industry watchers were not surprised it came just a year after three Singapore-based low-cost carriers - Tiger, Valuair and Jetstar - started operations.

A fourth carrier, AirAsia, has been flying out of Singapore since December 2001.

'There are too many players,' said Mr Kevin Scully, managing director of NetResearch Asia.

Faced with rising fuel costs now around US$60 a barrel and cut-throat price competition, analysts feel a shake-up has been on the cards for some time already.

DBS-Vickers Research aviation analyst Chris Sanda said: 'It is natural dynamics for consolidation among the No. 2, 3 or 4 competitors in a market.'

Mr Sanda sees a Valuair-Jetstar merger as a defensive move on Jetstar's part, since it is in a relatively weaker position than the rest, being the newest kid on the block.

Mr Seah Hiang Hong, head of research at Kim Eng Securities, said: 'If they can't make profit on a stand-alone basis, then they will want to harmonise their existing networks and rationalise flights on certain routes.

'They can also extract cost savings by merging their back-room functions and lower their overheads on a per unit basis.'

However, Mr Sanda cautions that while the goal is to improve their cost structures, the key will lie in the execution.

This is because unlike low-cost carrier Jetstar, Valuair is sandwiched between the full-service model and the low-cost model.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old June 30th, 2005, 07:23 PM   #989
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Business Times - 30 Jun 2005

Regional airline mergers now look inevitable


Trend likely to take off given conditions on the ground and the promptings by ministers

By VEN SREENIVASAN

(SINGAPORE) Merger mania seems to be in the air. First, Australian ministers suggested that Qantas could tie up with Singapore Airlines. Then Valuair and Jetstar Asia confirmed that they are in talks on a possible alliance. And yesterday, Tiger Airways indicated that it is looking for a partner overseas, possibly an airline.

But the biggest surprise of all came when Singapore Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong said that SIA - Singapore's national icon and world-famous brand - should explore a merger with Qantas.

'As commercial companies in a very competitive sector, I think it is useful for the two companies to keep all options open, which includes joining in the consolidation process,' Mr Yeo told surprised reporters yesterday.

While a merger between SIA and Qantas - both profitable and both flag carriers - seems remote for the moment, moves towards marriage have already started in the budget segment.

And analysts aren't surprised.

'The operating environment for regional low-cost players is getting increasingly difficult and many are bleeding badly,' said Standard & Poor's aviation writer Shukor Yusof.

'At this rate it's just a matter of time before someone is forced to shut up shop.'

Valuair, Jetstar Asia and Tiger Airways are amomg more than a dozen low-cost carriers (LCCs) that have sprouted around the region in the past three years. And most are being throttled by rising fuel prices, cut-throat competition and protected skies.

While numbers aren't available for Tiger Airways and Jetstar, Valuair lost $4.1 million versus revenue of about $85,000 in its seven months of operation last year. Much of this loss was due to start-up costs - but prospects remain dim this year because fuel prices have doubled.

Valuair, which raised about $38 million in shareholders' funds, has been looking at an initial public offer to raise more money. But it has to show a profit before any IPO. And that doesn't seem likely in the next 12 months.

As for Qantas affiliate Jetstar Asia, its problems are well-documented. After failing to get routes in China and Indonesia it has too many pilots on board and has deferred taking delivery of four new aircraft. Qantas chief financial officer Peter Gregg has said publicly that Jetstar's performance has been disappointing.

The problem for regional budget carriers versus their peers in the US and Europe is that market dynamics in this region are different.

Point-to-point flights tend to be longer than in the US and Europe. And this has an obvious impact on utilisation rates, turnaround times - and ultimately, operating costs.

Also, while the skies over the US and European Union are open, Asian budget carriers depend on bilateral agreements to secure routes. For example, all the Singapore LCCs kicked off with flights to Thailand because Singapore and Thailand have a free skies deal.

But after these easy early pickings, they face an uphill battle getting lucrative routes elsewhere.

A much more immediate problem is fuel costs. While LCCs can keep labour and other operating costs down, fuel is beyond their control. And at US$70 per barrel, it accounts for 35-40 per cent of their total costs, versus 20-25 per cent for full-service carriers.

Analysts say such conditions make consolidation inevitable.

And Valuair and Jetstar may be able to show the others how it can be done. A merger would create an operator with eight aircraft that can offer customers multiple daily flights to eight destinations.

More importantly, there would be economies of scale, especially in utilisation of resources and costs.

At a strategic level, the merger would bring together a player with strong local knowledge and broad regional network and a smaller player with access to a deeper pool of funds.

The only question is whether their corporate cultures can blend. Both have strong personalities at the helm. But the fact that it's these same people who see the merits in marriage suggest that their heads are not in the clouds - and that they can work through the issues.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old June 30th, 2005, 07:27 PM   #990
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Business Times - 30 Jun 2005

Asian national airlines thriving despite LCC challenge

(KUALA LUMPUR) Asia's national airlines will thrive despite growing competition from low-cost carriers (LCCs), some of which will collapse in an expected industry shake-out, according to an industry group.

The national airlines' relatively low cost base in Asia and a focus on lucrative long-haul and premium routes will counter the fare advantage budget carriers have over regional and domestic routes, Andrew Herdman, new director-general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, told Dow Jones Newswires in a recent interview.

The Kuala Lumpur-based association groups 17 Asian national carriers, including Singapore Airlines Ltd, Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd and Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd.

Mr Herdman said that unlike in the United States, where LCCs often operate for much less than full-service airlines, the cost differential in Asia between premium and no-frills carriers is narrow.

'This may come as a surprise to people who think it's only a matter of time before the no-frills model causes the kind of difficulties (for) the established players the way it has in the US,' he said.

As a result, he predicted, revenue, profit and the fleet size of premium airlines in Asia will continue to grow, while a shake-out of the region's budget carrier industry is likely.

'Full-service carriers will be bigger (in two years) than they are today. Some LCCs will grow, but there will be failures,' he said.

Over the past three years, 15 low-cost airlines have sprouted up in the Asia-Pacific, challenging dominant premium airlines in a region where oceans and the vastness of the area make flying the most suitable way to travel.

Yesterday, Singapore-based budget carrier Valuair said that it is in talks with rival Jetstar Asia on a range of issues. Analysts said the discussions could mark the first of a region-wide consolidation of LCCs.

Mr Herdman said that the latest profits of Association of Asia Pacific Airlines members showed their resilience. Their total net profit is likely to have reached a record high of over US$3.5 billion for the year ended March 2005, about seven times the US$500 million logged a year earlier, he said. In contrast, he added, most budget airlines are still unprofitable except for Australia's Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd and Malaysia's AirAsia Bhd - Asia's only publicly quoted LCCs. - AP

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old July 2nd, 2005, 01:33 PM   #991
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Business Times - 02 Jul 2005

Valuair seeking more capital from investors

Reports say it has approached AirAsia chief executive

By VEN SREENIVASAN

EVEN as it negotiates a possible alliance with Jetstar Asia, Singapore-based discount carrier Valuair is seeking more capital from both shareholders and potential new investors.

Valuair's executive vice-president Arthur Lim declined to comment on reports that the discount carrier had approached Malaysian low cost carrier AirAsia, but said that his airline was seeking additional funding.

'We are always looking for equity partners who can add value to our business proposition,' he said. 'But we cannot comment on individual investors whom we are speaking to.'

He declined to reveal how much capital the airline had raised from a recent rights issue to existing shareholders.

Meanwhile, Malaysian media reports said that Valuair had approached AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes. The Malaysian Business Times said that AirAsia was 'approached by several of Valuair's shareholders to take up close to a 50 per cent stake in the airline, for RM11.4 million (S$5 million)'.

When contacted by BT yesterday, Mr Fernandes - one of Malaysia's richest men following the airline's RM863 million public offering - was busy offloading baggage from an AirAsia flight from Penang (something which he said he did once a month). But he declined to talk about whether he had been approached by the Singapore-based discount carrier.

Valuair, which has raised almost $40 million from shareholders such as founder Lim Chin Beng, Natasha Foong, Jimmy Lau, Arthur Lim, Asiatravel.com and Star Cruises, is currently in talks with Jetstar Asia for a possible alliance or merger.

Jetstar, which is 49 per cent owned by Qantas, also has its share of problems.

Although it started with a bigger capital base of $100 million, it has had a tough time getting new routes, especially in the potentially lucrative Indonesia and China markets.

Analysts say a merger of the two would create a bigger player with more routes and planes, and a larger market presence.

But how would AirAsia come into this picture?

No one is really sure.

But the Malaysian low cost carrier has been keen to start a Singapore-based venture similar to its associates in Thailand (Thai AirAsia) and Indonesia (Awair). It might be able to achieve this by buying into the privately owned Valuair, say market insiders.

Meanwhile, Valuair has to get its shareholders to approve a marriage with Jetstar. It briefed its shareholders on Thursday about the talks and also extended the deadline for subscription of the rights issue.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old July 2nd, 2005, 02:57 PM   #992
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Budget Carriers Valuair, Jetstar Asia Eye Link-Up
June 29, 2005

Singapore-based discount carrier Valuair and Qantas Airways' low-cost associate Jetstar Asia are in talks about a possible alliance, Jetstar said on Wednesday.

The airline, 49 percent-owned by Australia's Qantas, said in a statement it was looking at ways to enable the two firms to "work together or cooperate".

The confirmation of talks between the two could be a sign of moves towards consolidation in a sector dominated by losses.

It comes after the boss of Singapore low-fare carrier Tiger Airways said he had abandoned plans to break even this year and was looking for a partner airline.

Singapore business daily Business Times said on Wednesday that the talks could lead to a code-sharing agreement, an equity swap or even a merger of the two carriers.

"We are in talks to explore any form of cooperation," the paper quoted Valuair director Arthur Lee as saying. "Our sheet of paper is blank and our discussions are wide-ranging."

Singapore state investment agency Temasek Holdings owns a 19 percent stake in Jetstar Asia. Valuair was set up by former staff of Singapore Airlines.

(Reuters)
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Old July 3rd, 2005, 10:44 AM   #993
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03 July 2005

Analysts sceptical of Qantas-SIA merger but back discount wing link

SYDNEY : Aviation analysts have dismissed suggestions from top officials in Canberra and Singapore that Qantas and Singapore Airlines will merge, but say the two carriers' discount offshoots would benefit from an alliance.

Australia's Trade Minister Mark Vaile first floated the idea of a merger between the airlines last month. Since then, both Prime Minister John Howard and Singapore Transport Minister Yeo Chow Tong have canvassed the prospect.

Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon also said he believed his airline would merge within the next decade, nominating SIA, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Air New Zealand as potential partners.

But Commsec aviation analyst Matt Crowe said a full-blown merger was unlikely, although he believed the airlines could combine some non-competitive functions such as catering and ground services.

"There's no compelling reason for a merger, these are the two most profitable national airlines in the world," he told AFP. "They're also major rivals in the same market, so it's difficult to see how they could avoid running foul of competition regulators."

Crowe said another major obstacle was the special place the airlines held in the psyches of both countries, saying while a merger may appear attractive to politicians, it would prove extremely unpopular with the public.

Analysts said while a merger of the full service airlines made little sense, their budget offshoots were prime candidates for consolidation.

Qantas' Jetstar Asia began operating from Singapore last December but the Centre for Pacific Aviation (CPA) said it was struggling because it had failed to secure access to a number of countries in the region.

Jetstar Asia announced it was holding alliance talks with rival Valuair last week as a way of dealing with rising fuel prices and carving out a niche in the region's crowded low cost airline market.

CPA senior consultant Ian Thomas said Jetstar Asia could also consider merging with SIA's Tiger Airways, creating a large discount airline to take on the market's dominant budget carrier, Malaysia's AirAsia.

"The low cost carrier market in Southeast Asia is at a very early stage, it's in a state of flux as everyone tries to establish themselves," he told AFP.

"The alliances formed now are going to be crucial in determining who survives long-term."

Thomas pointed out that SIA and Jetstar Asia already had a common shareholder in Temasek Holdings, which owns the majority of SIA shares and a 19 percent stake in Jetstar Asia, which is 49-percent owned by Qantas.

Crowe said Jetstar Asia had failed to impress since its launch.

"It's been a bit of a flop really," he said. "A merger from Jetstar Asia's point of view would be very appealing, it would solve their access problems and a link-up with Tiger in particular would provide a partner for an aggressive push into China, which has huge potential."

Crowe said he was puzzled at the stream of SIA-Qantas merger talk from Australian and Singaporean politicians. He suggested it was a way of publicly glossing over any potential rift from Canberra's decision last month not to allow SIA access to the lucrative Australia-US route, despite intense lobbying by Singapore.

SIA's Sydney-based spokeswoman Kate Pratley said the merger proposal had not originated from the airline, which was still concentrating on gaining access to the Australia-US route.

"A possible merger with Qantas is something that hasn't come up with us as an issue for a number of years," she told AFP. "We're very much focussed on the trans-Pacific route."

A Qantas spokeswoman said no merger talks were underway.

Any merger would require Canberra to scrap a 49 percent cap on foreign ownership of Qantas, a measure the government is considering as part of a wider transport review.

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister John Anderson said a merger had not been formally canvassed between the two governments. She refused to say whether the issue was informally discussed when Singapore Transport Minister Yeo Chow Tong met Anderson in Australia last month. - AFP/de

Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.
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Old July 4th, 2005, 12:14 AM   #994
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Here's an update of EasyJet and Ryanair's route maps. Note the new Ryanair routes in Poland and Lithuania:


EasyJet




Ryanair




Ryanair from London Stansted


Last edited by Monkey; July 18th, 2005 at 06:15 PM.
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Old July 4th, 2005, 12:22 AM   #995
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These two airlines are slowly degrading inter-European service thanks to the low fares.
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Old July 4th, 2005, 12:36 PM   #996
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04 July 2005

Asian travel industry still resilient amid sky-high oil prices


SINGAPORE : Asian travellers face costlier air tickets after oil breached US$60 a barrel, but the impact on demand should be limited amid rapid growth in no-frills travel, industry analysts said.

Airlines' profits are expected to be hit the hardest as jet fuel costs account for an increasingly greater share of their expenses, ranging from 17-40 percent of total expenditures, aviation and tourism analysts told AFP.

"A broader concern is what impact high oil prices have on the global economy. If oil prices are sustained at this level and begin to have an impact on the wider economy, it will affect travel demand," said Andrew Herdman, director-general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.

"The longer we see these higher oil prices being sustained, the risk that you see a global slowdown in economic growth continues to rise," he said.

"At this stage, it does not seem to be dampening travel demand, which remains firm."

After oil prices pushed to nearly US$61 a barrel last week, some Asian airlines imposed a new round of fuel surcharge increases - effectively raising ticket prices - while other carriers are waiting on the wings.

Some airlines said they would rather absorb the costs.

Garuda Indonesia, for whom jet fuel accounts for 30 percent of total costs, has raised fuel surcharges on Australia, Japan, China and Middle East routes by around 10 to 15 US dollars, airline spokesman Pudjobroto said.

Muslims making the 2006 Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia will be among those affected. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Thai Airways raised fuel surcharges for domestic flights from July 1, but current international flight surcharges of between 15 and 25 US dollars per ticket were unchanged.

Bangkok Airways will introduce new fuel surcharges for international and domestic flights from July 15.

Singapore Airlines and Malaysian Airlines said they were monitoring the oil price changes. Philippine Airlines said it was mulling a second fuel surcharge rise in as many months and Vietnam Airlines said it had applied for an increase.

Asia's biggest carrier Japan Airlines as well as All Nippon Airways said they had no plans to raise fuel surcharges in the near future.

Australia's Qantas said it had no immediate plans to raise fuel surcharges, which already stand at 15.20 US dollars for domestic travel and 45.60 US dollars for international routes.

Air New Zealand, which downgraded its profit forecast due to rising fuel costs, also said it had no plans for an increase but would do so in the future if necessary.

Chinese airlines said competition was so tough they had no way of passing the extra costs to the consumers, while Indian carriers have held off on any new increases.

John Koldowski, a managing director at the Pacific Asia Travel Association, said the biggest impact of higher ticket prices could be on the duration of family leisure trips - a point seconded by Don Birch, chief executive of air ticketing and reservations firm Abacus International.

A family of four may decide to have only a six-day holiday instead of 10 days as originally planned, Koldowski said.

Both Koldowski and Birch said business travel would be unaffected.

"It's bound to have some effect in some areas, but the volume of demand now is such that you might see a slight blip but not a prolonged one," Koldowski said.

He noted that holidays are no longer seen as a luxury by many Asians, and given the wider range of choices offered by premium and budget carriers, a lot of them would still choose to travel.

Birch said competition from budget carriers had brought down ticket prices overall, and the effect of higher fuel surcharges would vary between countries.

"There must be some impact but I think it's being offset by robust economic growth and by the overall downward trend in airline fares," he said.

James Vaile, chairman of newly launched Asia-Pacific travel search engine Bezurk.com, said higher fuel surcharges were likely to drive travellers towards "comparative shopping" for the best deals.

Higher oil prices are also encouraging further consolidation in the industry, especially in the crowded budget carrier market.

Singapore-based Jetstar Asia - which is backed by Qantas - is in talks with rival Valuair for a possible alliance.

"I think the competition is getting incredibly intense and it doesn't help that jet fuel prices are going up again," said Shukor Yusof, an aviation writer with US credit rating agency Standard and Poor's.

"For airlines - like the low-cost carriers - that do not hedge (their fuel costs), I think it's going to be extremely difficult to run the business. So it makes sense for them to explore working together." - AFP/de

Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.
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Old July 4th, 2005, 09:10 PM   #997
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Icelandair ups stake in easyJet to 11.5 pct after buying further 2.12 mln shares
4 July 2005

LONDON (AFX) - easyJet PLC said Icelandair Investments (FL Group) has increased its stake further in the company to 11.5 pct following the purchase of 2.12 mln shares.
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Old July 5th, 2005, 03:42 PM   #998
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Business Times - 05 Jul 2005

Tiger Airways plans daily flights to Cambodia


SINGAPORE - Singapore Airlines's budget affiliate, Tiger Airways, said on Tuesday it expects to start daily flights to Cambodia soon.

'The flights will start the moment Tiger Airways gets the Cambodian authorities' approval but we can't say exactly how soon because it depends on them,' said William Chia, the carrier's spokesman.

Tiger Airways is one of three Singapore-based budget airlines that started operations last year to capture a slice of the economy travel market, and currently flies to Thailand, Vietnam, Macau, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Soaring fuel costs and intense competition, however, have prevented the carriers from breaking even in the first year and persuaded Tiger's competitors, Valuair and Qantas Airways affiliate Jetstar Asia, to discuss a possible merger.

In a statement, Tiger Airways chief executive Tony Davis called the Cambodian flights 'an important development in the expansion of our regional route network as it gives us more efficiency in the use of our aircraft which will enable us to continue offering the lowest fares'.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old July 5th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #999
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee
These two airlines are slowly degrading inter-European service thanks to the low fares.
They are improving cheap transportation inside europe and thats MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than the service offered by flagship carriers within Europe.!!
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Old July 5th, 2005, 06:31 PM   #1000
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Take-off for easyJet routes to Berlin, Rome and Geneva from Belfast

LONDON, July 1 (AFP) - British low cost airline easyJet was to launch new air routes from Belfast to Rome and Geneva on Friday with services to Berlin and Palma starting Saturday.

The flights to Rome Ciampino, Berlin Schoenefeld and Geneva airports were to launch with assistance from the British government's Air Route Development Fund.

The scheduled service to Palma on the Spanish Mediterranean island of Majorca, plus a new route to Inverness in northern Scotland, were to start without government support.

"With the introduction of these additional routes we can clearly say that Northern Ireland has developed into a major international base for one of the premier operators in the low-cost air transport sector," Britain's enterprise minister Angela Smith said.

"Coming hard on the heels of the introduction of the New York to Belfast service which began in May, this is another major stride towards improving the accessibility of Northern Ireland's businesses to the global economy, and of tourists to Northern Ireland," Britain's domestic Press Association news agency quoted her as saying.
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