SIA unveils long-haul budget carrierSingapore - Singapore Airlines on Tuesday launched a budget carrier that will fly on medium and long-haul routes, including to Australia and China.
Called "Scoot", the new airline will begin flights from mid-2012 with a fleet of four Boeing B777-200 aircraft, company officials said.
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"Scoot is for you," said the new carrier's chief executive Campbell Wilson.
It is "not an everyday airline name because this is not an everyday airline," he told a media conference.
Scoot will launch its first commercial flight by the middle of next year, initially with four B777-200 aircraft purchased from parent company SIA.
It is expected to have 14 planes by 2016, with longer term plans to fly to India, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Wilson told AFP after the news conference that Scoot is unable to fly to the United States initially because the B777-200's limitations but he was not ruling out serving the US market in the future.
Scoot is wholly owned by SIA but will be managed independently.
Analysts have said SIA is moving to tap into a growing consumer demand for low-cost travel over longer distances as most of Asia's low-cost carriers cover short-haul routes.
Scoot is expected to compete directly with AirAsia X, the long-haul affiliate of Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia and British tycoon Richard Branson's Virgin Group.
AirAsia X flies to several destinations including London, Taipei, Tehran, Paris, Seoul, Tokyo and a number of cities in China and India.
SIA already has a short-haul, full-service unit called SilkAir, which travels to tourist destinations in Asia and has a stake in Asian budget carrier Tiger Airways.
SIA, regarded as a barometer for the industry, earned a profit of Sg$1.09 billion ($866 million) in the year to March 2011 on revenues of Sg$14.5 billion.
by Prashant Rao
(c) 2011 AFP
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