FINALLY, Tiger Airways has landed in Sydney with the proud but outdated boast that it will bring air transport to the masses. Sorry, that happened ages ago. Still, it’s great to see extra competition on the Sydney-Melbourne run, one of the world’s busiest city pairs.
About time, too – Tiger’s arrival in Sydney has been eons coming, some would say overdue. Until now, the carrier has ignored the obvious and focussed on more obtuse routes such as Newcastle-Melbourne, which it cut last year after just seven months.
Tiger is now out to play a starring role on the biggest stage in Australian aviation, running up to four return flights a day between Melbourne and Sydney. Its positioning is all about cheap – fares from $39 if booked a few weeks out, making it the clear price leader.
The pricing picture changes closer to flight time. The cheapest Tiger flight I saw within a few days of flying was $78 – only $1 less than a comparable Virgin flight. Worth noting that Jetstar is always cheaper but uses Avalon Airport, one hour from Melbourne. As a result Tiger is able to charge up to $40 more than its traditional low-cost rival.
Qantas is clearly the most expensive but has the best frequency, which the business travellers who own this route love more than just about anything except their Frequent Flyer points, something else Tiger cannot give them. So the road warrior will be a tough sell for Tiger on this route.
However the leisure market is another story. There’s a lot of scope and Tiger should do well. More times than not, the most obvious decision is the right decision.