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Tigerair Taiwan edges nearer to 1st flight launch for new budget carrier

TAIPEI -- Budget carrier Tigerair Taiwan (台灣虎航), a joint venture between Taiwan's China Airlines and Singapore's Tiger Airways, said Monday that it expects to obtain approval to launch flights within two weeks, moving closer to becoming Taiwan's first domestic low-cost carrier.

After it gets an Air Operator Certificate from the Civil Aeronautics Administration, the airline is expected to launch its maiden flight to Singapore Sept. 26, said carrier CEO Kwan Yue (關栩).

The carrier chose Singapore as its first destination as it hopes to capitalize on Tiger Airway's connections and resources in the Southeast Asian city state to offer more flexible flight destinations to passengers, Kwan said during a press conference in Taipei.

“The main advantage is really to benefit the people in Taiwan,” Kwan said. “Because by adding more frequencies between Singapore and Taiwan, we actually allow Taiwanese who want to fly multiple destinations to connect from Singapore on Tigerair,” he said.

Starting from noon Tuesday, the public can go to the company's homepage to register for more than 10,000 Singapore-bound one-way tickets costing just NT$888 (US$30) each, the company announced.

Flights will depart for Singapore at 10 a.m. every day, while return flights are scheduled for 3:30 p.m., Singapore time, Kwan said.

Besides Singapore, the airline will expand its flight network to

Northeast Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea in the near future, Kwan went on, adding that it will continue to enlarge its fleet.

After taking delivery of its first A320 jet the previous day, the carrier will likely get a second one within two months and eventually have 12 of the aircraft within three years, he said.

Whether a low-cost carrier can make a profit will depend on its fleet size to create an economy of scale, Kwan said, expressing hope that Tigerair Taiwan can become profitable in its second year of operation.

Last December, China Airlines and Tiger Airways agreed to set up Tigerair Taiwan to tap into the budget airline business. CAL holds a 90 percent stake with an investment of NT$1.8 billion in the new carrier, which has paid in capital of NT$2 billion.

There are 13 low-cost carriers operating in Taiwan currently, with V Air, which was established last November as a low-cost subsidiary of Taiwan's TransAsia Airways, likely to enter the market later this year.

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