Tiger Airways and Thai Airways split ways

AT last, the confirmation that the deal is off. Budget carrier Tiger Airways announced it has dropped plans for a joint-venture budget airline with Thai Airways after months of a tumultuous flip-flop that points to a doomed outcome. The reason: failure to obtain the necessary government approvals.

In fact, all previous indications from Thai Airways clearly pre-empted this final announcement, although Tiger – partly owned by Singapore Airlines – chose to deny it. The guess is that attempts to salvage the failed relationships through alleged ongoing discussions had failed. It looked like Tiger wanted it more than the Thai flag carrier.

That might bring a chuckle from AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes who had successfully set up Thai Asia based in Bangkok. Mr Fernandes seems to be riding the good wind of success where others have failed. One wonders why the Thai government snubbed Tiger, noting its reputable SIA links and connections with budget doyen Ryanair. Could that itself have worked in its disfavor?

Interestingly, Thai Airways revealed it would be setting up a new budget carrier –Thai Smile – instead. The budget market in Asia continues to attract new airlines. particularly subsidiaries of full-service airlines such as Scoot/SIA and Jetstar Japan/Qantas/Japan Airlines. And why not when the International Air Transport Association continually forecasts healthy growth in the region despite the volatility of the global economy? By that, there should be enough to keep most, if not everyone, smiling!

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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