SINGAPORE - Budget carrier Tigerair is launching flights to Ipoh, making it the only local carrier to operate direct flights on the route. It will commence operations from May 29, subject to regulatory approvals, using an Airbus A320. Malaysia-based Firefly - a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines - also operates direct flights from Singapore to Malaysia's fourth largest city, using its ATR turboprop aircraft.
Tigerair will operate four weekly flights, offering about 1,440 seats a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Tickets will go on sale from April 20.
Tiger Airways' chief executive Lee Lik Hsin said: "We are excited to add Ipoh to our growing Asia network and be the first to operate jet flights in Ipoh. Tigerair already enjoys a significant presence in Malaysia and this addition will help meet demand for both leisure and business travel between Singapore and Malaysia."
He added: "The launch of this new route, alongside our deepened partnership with KrisFlyer and Scoot, highlight our ongoing commitment to providing travellers with greater choices and memorable experiences."
According to Endau Analytics analyst Shukor Yusof, the route offers "tremendous potential" since many Malaysians working in Singapore are from Perak. In addition, the limited number of direct services on the route makes it lucrative. However, Tiger will likely have to drop fares initially to succeed.
Mr Yusof said: "But the A320 has the advantage of being larger (than the ATR72) and a good workhorse. Firefly will feel the heat, as it will now have to readjust its fares according to what Tiger is offering."
While Tiger's network remains limited, the recent plunge in jet fuel prices and Singapore Airlines' (SIA) support could help foster a "revival", Mr Yusof suggested. "Tiger has to be very smart in its choice of routes and going head on with regional competitors."
SIA recently bumped up its stake in Tiger from 40 per cent to nearly 56 per cent. Tigerair is also trying to work more closely with SIA's wholly-owned budget carrier Scoot.
Ipoh is Tigerair's fourth destination in Malaysia as it also serves Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and Penang. Overall, the budget carrier has a network of some 46 destinations, including in other markets such as Australia, China, India, and Indonesia.
Shares in Tiger closed at 32 Singapore cents on Tuesday, unchanged.
This article was first published on April 1, 2015.
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