Tiger Airways will establish a second base at Sydney Airport after CASA approved the carrier’s plan to increase flights to pre-grounding levels over the next six months.
The plan will allow Tiger to use all 10 of its aircraft for the first time since its operations were shut down for six weeks over safety concerns last July and August. Three of the carrier’s jets have sat idle since Tiger returned to the air under a CASA-imposed cap, contributing to losses of about $37.6 million over the first three quarters of the financial year.
Under the expansion, Tiger will base its three currently unused A320s in Sydney starting on July 1 and will increase daily Sydney flights from 18 to 38. The added flights will include “up to four” daily return services on new routes between Sydney-Gold Coast and Sydney-Brisbane as well as two additional daily flights between Sydney and Tiger’s Melbourne hub.
Tiger said the expansion would add 150 new jobs in Sydney, including flight, cabin and ground crew and engineering support. Tiger currently employs about 350 people in Australia.
“We are continuing with our future Australian expansion as planned,” Tiger CEO Andrew David said in a statement. “The business goal was to have all 10 aircraft operating in Australia by the second half of 2012 and today’s news proves we’re on track.”
Under its agreement with CASA, Tiger is cleared to increase daily flights from its current limit of 38 to 42 by July, 50 by August, 58 by September and 64 by October. In an interview with The Australian, David said the increased flight cap combined with the second base in Sydney would allow Tiger to fully utilise its fleet and give the airline a “fighting chance” of profitability.
David said Singapore-based Tiger would also deploy an 11th aircraft to Australia by August to be used as an operational spare as the airline seeks to maintain significant improvements in on-time performance since it came out of the grounding.
Sydney Airport hailed Tiger’s announcement as a win for its partnership with the NSW government to promote the airport. Earlier reports had indicated Tiger was eyeing Brisbane Airport as a second base.
Alongside the announcement, Tiger unveiled plans to sponsor Sydney’s Wests Tigers NRL team for the upcoming season.