Friday, April 24, 2009

Jetstar Asia eyes China and India-24 April, 2009

SINGAPORE – Jetstar Asia’s new owner Newstar is 49 percent owned by Qantas. It also owns 100 percent of Valuair. The other shareholder is Dennis Khoo, Qantas’ long-time partner in the region.

Chong has welcomed the new shareholding structure, saying it allows for a clearer, focused expansion strategy and investment objectives.

She made the statements in an address recently to the Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) students through the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series held at The Cornell-Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management (CNI).

She said that the relationship with Qantas means that “we can now take advantage of the intra networking opportunities between Jetstar (Australia), Jetstar Pacific and Jetstar Asia”.

“The new structure will allow us to expand our network and skill force and to take advantage of the traffic rights in Singapore,” Chong told the students.

Jetstar Asia has seven A330 aircraft and is limited to flights of five-and-half hour duration or less. She said that of Qantas’ order for 15 Boeing 787 aircraft, she was lobbying to acquire seven of them for her airline.

She expressed interest in flights to China and India, adding that Jetstar Asia already qualified for landing rights, but it lacked the right aircraft to operate the routes. The airline presently operates 280 flights per week.

Chong came into the role as the fourth CEO in a year and has no prior industry experience. “When I started this job, I expected to turn around the business in three years, but we turned it around in two years,” she said.

“In my previous roles, I’ve always been used as a trouble shooter, for mergers and acquisitions, divergence and restructuring. I felt that I brought a fresh perspective to Jetstar, one with no negative transfer of experience.”

She observed that the airline industry as a whole has never made a profit and that if she had had industry experience, she may have brought a cynical perspective to the role.

Under Chong’s leadership, the airline has broken a number of unwritten Asian industry rules. For example, making way for experienced (45 years old or more) cabin crew members to gain employment and of late, part time work schemes for mothers that see them fly and return to Singapore on the same day, for three days a week.

Chong also made it possible to book online and pay at any 7-11 stores; a feat which she accomplished within a week because of her prior relationship with the chain of stores.

The reason she said that she made it happen was that her son challenged her to make the convenience possible because he booked a group of tickets for his friends but refused to use her credit card to pay for it in fear that he would not receive payment from all of his friends.

She found this to be true in the case of other group bookings and felt that it was the right thing to do. On the first evening of the day the airline went public with the 7-11 affiliation, it had five payments made at 7-11 stores.

The airline diverges from its competition of “low cost carriers” by offering a 20kg baggage allowance, a main terminal (T1) departure and arrival experience, allocated seat and free online seat selection and leather seats.

by Illka Gobius of Web In Travel (WIT).

WIT 2009 will once again be held in partnership with ITB Asia, Asia’s biggest travel trade fair. Its hospitality partner is HSMAI Asia Pacific.

WIT 2009 will be held from Oct 20-23 at Suntec City, Singapore. This year’s WIT will comprise The WIT Conference (Oct 20-21) and The WIT Ideas Lab (9-11am, Oct 22 & Oct 23)
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