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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 07:09 GMT 08:09 UK
Qantas in Singapore low-cost deal
Qantas aircraft
Australian airline Qantas is starting up a low-frills carrier in Singapore, to take advantage of soaring Southeast Asian demand.

The plan is a joint venture with Singapore government investment agency Temasek and two local investors.

There are already four budget carriers flying out of the city state.

Qantas already runs its own low-cost operation - Australian Airlines - which flies from Australia to Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bali.

It also runs a purely domestic no-frills carrier, Jetstar.

A fifth - Tiger Airlines, backed by Singapore Airlines and Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair - is set to start flying later this year.

Temasek holds 11% of Tiger Airways.

'Modest investment'

Qantas said it had yet to pick a name for the new venture, which will start offering flights to destinations within five hours' flying time of Singapore by the end of the year.

It will start with four aircraft: either Boeing 737-800s or Airbus A320s, both common workhorses in the no-frills business.

"This is a modest investment for Qantas," said chief executive Geoff Dixon.

But, he said, it was one which would "stimulate this market as other low-cost carriers have done in other parts of the world".

Qantas will hold a 49.9% stake in the business, with Temasek taking 19% and the remainder split between Singapore businessmen Tony Chew and FF Wong.

The Australian firm will contribute half the 100m Singapore dollar ($59m; 32m) start-up costs.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Sharanjit Leyl
"The airline is confident it's headed in the right direction"



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