There are signs of new ventures and expansionary plans among some of Asia’s highest profile low fare airlines.
Not that what has been announced will excite travellers, since almost everything is subject to approvals that have proven notoriously difficult or time consuming to obtain in Thailand and India, to mention but two markets.
But the announcements, conveniently pulled together except for an impending Airbus order by AirAsia X, in this one Bloomberg report, are clear signs of renewed efforts at consolidation within the two Singapore based low cost carriers of Scoot and Tigerair.
Scoot is a wide body LCC 100% owned by Singapore Airlines, which had founded the single aisle Tiger Airways in answer to Jetstar Asia in 2004, but has in recent times divested its original equity down to 32.7% in Tiger Group terms, which in turn, sold 60% of the Australian Tigerair operation to Virgin Australia.
Whether Singapore Airlines should, or will, eventually merge its two low cost brands into one, is a discussion for another time. Clearly there are moves afoot in Singapore to make the different investments in Scoot and Tigerair work together as efficiently as possible.
The oddly titled NokScoot intended venture based in Thailand, and shared by Thai LCC NokAir and Scoot, follows the recent announcement of a Thai franchise for AirAsia X to be based on a longer haul Bangkok hub.
Meanwhile AirAsia X is saying it is only days away from announcing a large Airbus deal for wide-body jets, with most of the gossip tipping more A330s, possibly the lower gross weight version recently proposed by Toulouse as a competitor to the Dreamliner 787-10 stretch that Boeing has already launched for services starting later this decade.
Why AirAsia X would want to put Airbus on notice through the media before it is all neatly signed, sealed and delivered might suggest the small matter of price isn’t quite resolved in its favour just yet.
These strategic moves might also be of interest in the context of Qantas having put everything on the table for its February review of its assets and options in the wake of the disastrous profit downgrade that preceded the S&P downgrading of its debt to junk status.
If, stress, ‘if’, some of the Jetstar activities or projects were to be divested, then the rationalisation of activity involved in the plans for closer integration of Tigerair (Singapore) and Scoot might go much further than the moves foreshadowed today.