The first re-liveried low cost cabin configured Air Australia A320 starts operating on former Strategic Airlines leisure and resources sector routes from tomorrow Friday.
There isn’t too much to say about Air Australia at this stage but to wish its owner, Michael James, and its staff good fortune.
It is hard to become a successful new entrant in this market, although it may well be a good omen that Air Australia (formerly Strategic) is larger on its first day with six A320s (some leased out) and one A332 than either Virgin Blue with two borrowed Boeing 737-400s and Impulse with three Boeing 717s on their debuts in 2000. (Impulse was already an established regional turbo-prop operator).
Virgin Blue has morphed into Virgin Australia of course, and lest anyone think Impulse was a failure, its sale in May 2001 to Qantas made founder Gerry McGowan a pile of money only eclipsed in aviation up to the end of that year by Richard Branson selling half of Virgin Blue to Patrick Corp for $250 million and making ever more from the carrier, in which he retains a 26% stake to this day, in various post Patrick transactions.
Despite the pitch for public visibility at its brand launch today, Air Australia’s business plan to be a low fare leisure carrier seems to be based on trying to be almost invisible to the bigger beasts in the jungle ranging up from Tiger through Jetstar, Virgin Australia, and the various Qantas jet brands.
The strategy seems to be to fly from to Phuket, Denpasar and Honolulu, and later, cities in China, without the larger carnivores noticing. This requires more A332s. Will it get away with this without being stomped, or chomped? That is the strategic question.