The latest gimmick from Tiger Airways, a chance to buy a 1c cent fare (after all taxes, levies and charges) as part of a return trip in May or June, is not about madness but revenge.

It all goes back to late June 2001 when then Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon, personally lobbied PM John Howard to ‘adjust’ his transport minister, John Anderson’s support for the Singapore Airlines bid to buy half of Air New Zealand, which then owned all of Ansett Australia.

After Anderson toed the line he flew to Wellington to instruct a weak NZ government to refuse to approve the deal he had so strongly supported until then.

That was double cross No 1 (at least). The two further double crosses concerned Australian government assurances to the government of Singapore that open skies meant they would get access to the non-stop trans Pacific flights to the US in competition with Qantas, a policy continued by the Rudd Government in the national interest so that V Australia could establish itself on the route, which it appears to have done, although only with a notional frequency.

What we have seen ever since from the Singapore Airlines technically minority owned yet controlled Tiger Airways has been revenge, and not surprisingly, a now self funding revenge as Tiger variously breaks even or makes small profits, both in its Asian operations against the provocation of a Jetstar Asia franchise based in Singapore, and through Tiger Australia.

So when people say ‘Tiger is going broke’ or similar, they are missing both the point and the reality.

Tiger is a woeful airline to fly in this country, at the moment anyhow, but that isn’t the point either.  It can be incredibly cheap, so shut up, and retreat into your iPod or your paperback collection of the complete works of Tolstoy when it takes you half a day, on a good day, to make a flight between Sydney and Melbourne.

It IS tricky, it IS unreliable, and it can be incredibly costly if you were to seriously buy it for a last minute exercise in knee pain and penitence for a life time of sin, but it is highly likely to have at least 15 per cent of the Australia domestic market in 18 months, if not 20 per cent within 30 months. It limits the pricing power of Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Blue.

Which brings us to the 1c sale, details of which are on the Tiger website, if it’s server hasn’t caught fire by now, or tomorrow morning at 0300, when the inducement to spend a helluva lot more than 1c on the total trip flicks on, and probably off a few seconds later, after melt down occurs.

Tiger may be cheap but it isn’t totally insane.  If it sells you a $60 fare one way it figures that it is ahead, especially after it bites you for a few hidden charges because of its ticketing and checking in rules, baggage rules, and rule rules.  So the ‘game’ will be to try and get you to buy something north of a $100 fare in order to reduce the losses on the 1c fare the other way.

It’s like buying premium economy one way on Virgin Blue for schedule reasons after scoring something under $100 in the other direction, but physically painful both ways.

Some lucky players might just get a return fare somewhere interesting for $29.01!

Thank Geoff Dixon for that if you do.  Just think, if he hadn’t intervened Singapore Airlines would have taken effective control of Air New Zealand/Ansett in 2001, and lost everything but its sarong in the Ansett disaster and we’d be living in a very different world when it comes to Australia, New Zealand and Asia-Pacific air transport.

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