Airline observers are wondering if Tigerair might change its name in Australia, following the news that Singapore Airlines (SIA) plans to buy out Tiger Airways in Singapore.
SIA currently owns 55.8% of Tiger Airways Singapore and has launched an offer to buy the remaining 44.2% in a deal that values the budget carrier at about SGD 1.02 billion. The value is about the same in Australian dollars, as the Singapore dollar (SGD) is within a hairsbreadth of the Australian dollar (AUD) in current value.
The potential buyout news relates to the Singapore-based carrier, not the Australian franchise. Tigerair in Australia is a subsidiary of Virgin Australia and 100% owned by that group.
SIA said it planned to privatise Tiger’s Singapore operation as it “lacks the scale and network” to effectively compete with the likes of Malaysia’s AirAsia, Qantas’s Jetstar unit, Indonesia’s Lion Air and Philippine airline Cebu Pacific, according to a report in AsiaOne Business.
SIA says Tiger would benefit from being fully integrated into the group which includes long-haul, low-cost carrier Scoot and full-service regional airline SilkAir.
Scoot and Tiger are already working together in some aspects of their network.
Tiger operates Airbus A320s and was set up by SIA and Singapore’s national investment firm, Temasek Holdings, in 2004.
SIA has pulled out of its joint ventures in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.
If Scoot ends up taking over Tigerair Singapore, a rebranding might leave Tigerair in Australia as a standalone brand.
Aviation reporter Ben Sandilands wonders whether Virgin Ultra, “the name intended for a Virgin Blue low cost unit that never happened”, might make more sense in such circumstances.
Writing in his Plane Talking blog on Crikey.com.au, Sandilands notes that Virgin Australia has been careful not to “contaminate” its upmarket full-service brand with any loyalty scheme association or code-sharing arrangement with its Tigerair franchise.
“But Virgin Australia Holdings is 23% owned by Singapore Airlines, which may have ambitions to see its Singapore based low-cost carrier investments co-operate with Virgin Australia Holdings’ low cost investment in this country, which also goes international next year with flights to Denpasar (if ash cloud free) and quite possibly to cities in New Zealand,” Sandilands notes.
Written by Peter Needham