Saturday, November 5, 2011

Air Australia plans

From yesterday's Courier Mail

Brisbane-based Strategic Airlines to offer budget Asia flights and rename itself Air Australia

air australia

SPORTING COLOURS: Strategic Airlines is changing its name to Air Australia and targeting underserviced routes to Asia. Source: The Courier-Mail

AUSTRALIA'S newest budget airline isn't out to compete directly with embattled Qantas, it says.

From November 15, Brisbane-based Strategic Airlines will add more routes and rename itself Air Australia.

The airline's aircraft and cabin crew will change their livery from red, white and blue to the nation's iconic green and gold sporting colours, with a boomerang as its motif.

Speaking at the airline's Brisbane launch yesterday, Queensland Attorney-General Paul Lucas said the airline's birth should be a warning to Qantas, which had damaged its reputation through debilitating contract negotiations with its workers.

Mr Lucas said Air Australia was poised to shake up the market.

"Those airlines that have been around Australia for a long time need to understand that no one has a monopoly of calling itself the Australian airline," he said.

Chief executive Michael James said the airline would not compete directly with Qantas or Jetstar and would focus on underserviced routes, particularly direct international flights from Brisbane and Melbourne.

The airline will absorb existing Strategic Airlines routes from Brisbane and Melbourne to Phuket and Brisbane to Bali, with Honolulu to be added in December this year.

Further on, direct flights from Melbourne and Brisbane will also head to the west coast of the USA, Vietnam and Japan.

Sale flights will be available until November 15 from $249 one-way to Bali, $329 to Phuket, and $349 to Hawaii out of Brisbane and Melbourne, running between two and six times a week.

The launch comes as Virgin Australia this week announced new business-class seats on the high-demand Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne route to be available from mid-January.

Virgin said the flights would be discounted immediately, signalling a future price war, but yesterday Qantas refused to reveal whether it would match the price-cuts.

Qantas faces an uphill battle to restore customer faith after it grounded its entire fleet at the weekend during an industrial dispute.

The airline now has until November 21 to resolve the dispute and strike a new pay deal with three unions representing pilots, licensed engineers and baggage, ground and catering staff.

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