Tigerair brand to be discontinued in Australia

Aviation Updates Philippines – Virgin Australia has announced that it will be shutting down its low-cost subsidiary Tigerair Australia, leaving the Qantas-backed Jetstar Airways as the only low-cost carrier operating out of Australia.

In an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on Wednesday (August 5), Virgin Australia said that it will be sidelining the Tigerair brand due to the lack of sufficient customer demand to support two carriers.

"Demand for domestic and short-haul international travel is likely to take at least three years to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, with the real chance it could be longer, which means as a business we must make changes to ensure the Virgin Australia Group is successful in this new world," Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah said in a statement.

Virgin Australia, however, also said that it will be retaining Tigerair Australia's Air Operator Certificate (AOC) as well as the resources necessary to support it, giving it the option to operate another low-cost carrier in the future "when the domestic market can support it."

Aside from discontinuing the Tigerair Australia brand, Virgin Australia also axed all of its long-haul flights and slashed 3,000 jobs, affecting around one-third of its workforce.

Virgin Australia also offloaded all of its regional ATR, Airbus A330-200, and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, leaving the Brisbane-based carrier with an all-Boeing 737 fleet.

The discontinuation of the Tigerair brand is the latest blow to the struggling carrier, which had already been facing problems even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline reported annual losses for seven consecutive years and owed around US$3.39 billion as of December 31, 2019. In less than four months, another US$1 billion was added to this amount.
Virgin Australia went into voluntary administration in April, becoming the first major carrier in the Asia-Pacific region to succumb to the effects of COVID-19.

Before its collapse, the airline tried to ask the Australian government for a A$1.4 billion loan but failed.

In June, Virgin Australia was acquired by the US private equity firm Bain Capital. The amount of the deal was not disclosed, but the airline's administrator Deloitte said that this deal would result in "a significant injection of capital" into the airline which would help keep it afloat.

With the Tigerair brand gone from Australia, Tigerair Taiwan is now the last remaining Tigerair-branded airline that is still operational. In 2017, Singapore-based Tigerair merged with Singapore Airlines subsidiary Scoot, while Tigerair Philippines was rebranded as Cebgo in 2015. Tigerair Mandala, headquartered in Indonesia, ceased operations in 2014.

Photo by Robert Myers