Singapore Airlines (SIA) passengers could find themselves connecting to destinations offered by Tigerair, as the country's national carrier finally brings the budget carrier into its fold.
SIA, which has been trying to acquire and delist Tigerair for some time, met the threshold for complete acquisition of the budget carrier last Friday.
The group now owns, controls or has agreed to acquire over 95.6 per cent of Tigerair, group chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong said yesterday at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, where the airline is taking delivery of its first Airbus 350-900 jetliner today.
With the acquisition of Tigerair, SIA adds to its stable of the premium parent carrier, SilkAir and Scoot. "With all these four vehicles, we have basically covered the full spectrum of travel segments," said Mr Goh. "We will be able to provide the right vehicle for anyone on any sort of budget or destination."
SIA announced its intention to take over and delist the budget carrier last November.
Passengers will eventually be able to purchase one ticket with SIA and travel to destinations offered by all four of its airlines.
Mr Goh said this arrangement will be rolled out on a "gradual basis". It has already been started with SIA's long-haul budget carrier Scoot, but Tigerair would expand this network much further.
He pointed out that SilkAir and SIA travel to only 12 destinations in China but, with Scoot and Tigerair in the mix, they will reach 24.
In practice, a passenger from Nanjing in China - which is not served by SIA or SilkAir - would be able to travel on Scoot to Singapore and transfer onto the parent carrier to connect elsewhere in the world.
But Mr Goh added that brand dilution and confusion was a concern, and the group was approaching this cautiously so as not to diminish the parent carrier's premium image.
"We have to make sure our customers understand they are connecting onto a budget product and what to expect from that - that's education that we would have to do," said Mr Goh.
Customers will still be able to buy individual tickets with the budget airlines.
Meanwhile, SIA will start flying its newest A-350 jet to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on May 9. In July, it will begin flying to Dusseldorf, Germany. SIA will take delivery of its first A-350-900 today and receive 10 more by the end of the year.
In all, SIA has ordered 67 A-350-900s, seven of which are an ultra-long-range variant. They will allow the airline to resume non-stop flights to US destinations such as New York and Los Angeles.
The carrier will take delivery of these seven jets in 2018. SIA has called the A-350 a "gamechanger" and said the jet will allow it to boost its placid long-haul business.
The A-350 is touted by its European maker to be 25 per cent more fuel-efficient than rival aircraft in the same category. It can carry more than 300 passengers in a three-class layout.