There is a lot more focus by Tiger Australia on the routes where it can exercise pricing power over its competitors in its latest round of capacity increases announced today.

Before it was grounded last year Tiger tied up jets on routes where Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia probably paid little attention compared to the rest of their networks.

But this is different. For the 27 March to 31 October scheduling period Tiger is lifting frequency between Melbourne and Sydney from a maximum of five return flights a day to eight.

That amounts to a total of up to 16 flights a day on Australia’s busiest route that bargain hunters might choose for a mixing and matching of best fares, and most convenient travel times.

It also populates the booking matrices for those playing air fare snakes and ladders with enough ultra cheap Tiger offers to force Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia to post a similarly visible range of opportunities for people to fly them at fares which charge less for their brand premium than they would normally try to collect.

On the Melbourne-Perth route Tiger doubles its frequency to two return flights daily. And on Melbourne-Gold Coast, Tiger is lifting is capacity from double daily A320s each way to three daily.

The only other route is flies at present, Melbourne-Brisbane, remains at up to three returns daily.

It is too early to say whether Tiger will slide back to its previous habit of offering outrageously high fares for last minute bookings, on the assumption that once seats begin to get scarce, some people will pay anything to anyone to fly.

But the higher frequency Tiger offering between Sydney and Melbourne may curb the Jetstar practice of offering so called MAX package fares that are more costly than the best deals parent Qantas and rival Virgin Australia have posted at about the same time.

Whatever else it achieves, Tiger could force Jetstar to remain true to the low cost airline model, and charge fares that are as low as the quality on offer.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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