AVIATION FESTIVAL ASIA: Opportunities still exist for LFAs in North Asia

Tremendous opportunities still exist for low-fare airlines in North East Asia, according to Tigerair Taiwan chief executive officer, Kwan Yue, with the airline eyeing new route opportunities in Japan and South Korea and south to the Philippines and Malaysia.

There have been no new LFA start-up announcements in the region for the last 24 months, but there are still good prospects for new LFAs in the region, he said. “But it will hurt if you get the wrong place, wrong time,” he added.

Tigerair Taiwan – which is 90% owned by China Airlines and 10% by Tigerair – launched services in September 2014 and benefits from first mover advantages, he commented. The airline is already operating ahead of its initial business plan, with a 12-aircraft fleet initially envisaged for the first three years and the airline operating eight within 17 months. “We are growing faster than we planned,” he conceded. Of the 300-plus weekly flights out of Taiwan, Tigerair Taiwan has managed to capture 20% of the market in its short existence.

To date the carrier’s main focus has been on Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China, but a lot of opportunities remain to be tapped in the region, Yue suggested. “Taiwan is at the centre of where the action is,” he noted, pointing to LFA penetration of just under 60% in South East Asia but only 13% in the North East. “We can cover Korea, Japan, a large part of China, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia so your guess is as good as mine where we could fly to next.”

Further opportunities exist in Japan and the airline has rights for services to the Philippines and Malaysia, but aircraft availability is currently holding it back, he added.

Emma Kelly, Asia-Pacific correspondent, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net

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