Singapore-based Tiger Airways says it has never considered pulling the plug on its Australian operations as it continues to be suspended from the air for safety reasons.
Newly-installed group chief executive Chin Yau Seng said the company remains confident that Tiger will fly again in Australia and win back passengers.
Tiger Airways Australia posted a hefty first quarter loss due to higher fuel costs, lower revenue and flight disruptions as a result of the Chilean volcano ash cloud.
It’s been grounded since July 1 for safety reasons after two incidents where pilots approached Tullamarine and Avalon airports at too low an altitude.
The air safety regulator said on Thursday it was still not happy with Tiger’s resubmitted documentation on issues such as pilot safety and aircraft operations, having found further deficiencies.
But a confident Mr Chin said when Tiger resumed its flights in Australia it planned a big relaunch to win back the trust of passengers.
“At this point of time, given that we have no firm position on the date for resumption of services it would be premature to comment on what those relaunch plans are,” Mr Seng said.
He said the suspension, now in its fifth week, had been a setback for the airline which is bleeding $2 million a week.
“I think we will get over it,” he told reporters.
“We believe there is money to be made in this segment and we remain committed to trying make it work.
“As to whether we have ever considered pulling the plug, we are nowhere close to that tipping point at this point in time.”
Tiger Australia posted an operating loss of $S23.2 million ($A17.3 million) in the three months to June 30, 2011, more than double the $S10.6 million loss in the prior corresponding period.
Tiger has not made a profit in Australia since starting operations in this country in November 2007 and expects to record a net loss for the financial year.
Mr Chin said that since Tiger has been banned from the air, domestic fares in Australia had gone up.
“For the Australian market, I think consumers welcome competition,” he said.
“Tiger Airways has very affordable fares, it actually provides a niche in the market and once we get back in the air after this suspension our intention is to win back consumers’ confidence, and certainly, to start growing the airline again.”
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) says it has identified deficiencies in Tiger’s latest documentation, which covers issues such as pilot training and aircraft operations, and will have to be addressed before it gets the green light.
CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said Tiger would have to review the documentation so that it was accurate, complete and up to date.
“The process is now very much dependent on Tiger being able to do that successfully before we can move on,” Mr Gibson told AAP.