The least painful way for Tiger’s owners to solve their Australian problems may be to sell the airline rather than tickets.
This article in the Sydney Morning Herald makes the diabolical costs of breaking its current lease arrangements clear.
For Singapore Airlines it will also be a case of deja vu. As part owner of Air New Zealand/Ansett in 2001, it saw and felt the costs of Air New Zealand severing its obligations to Ansett and casting it off. No-one was prepared to buy Ansett as a going concern. Lindsay Fox was prepared to use it to buy Ansett terminals, but the Tesna consortium he formed with Solomon Lew never came close to coming up with a credible plan to relaunch the carrier, despite fooling a large part of the media at the time.
So arguably the real question hanging over Tiger Australia’s domestic operation may be who will buy it, or, who will be allowed to buy it?
Impulse Airways and the Qants group persuaded the ACCC in 2001 that competition would not be impaired by its acquisition by Qantas, where it became a business unit that was ultimately turned into Jetstar in 2004.
Does that sale provide the ACCC with a relevant and compelling precedent to permit the sale of Tiger as a domestic airline unit to either a new or existing Australian carrier?
While it may seem hypothetical to ask such questions now, they would also be under study already given the history, experience and strategic planning capabilities of the Qantas and Virgin Australia groups, and a small number of internationally known airline investment partners.