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Monday, December 17, 2007

Kuala Lumpur in the list as southern Europe hub

It is among the cities being shortlisted by Jetstar

Kuala Lumpur, together with Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok, are being considered by Jetstar to be the hub to fly to southern Europe, according to general manager of corporate relations Simon Westaway.

The planned two-stage flying to Southern Europe is expected to take off from mid-2009 with Athens and Rome as the two likely destinations.

Jetstar is also interested to fly to Munich, Germany later. Westaway said the review would evaluate airport cost, traffic rights, range of aircraft available and human resources.

The low-fare airline started its long-haul flights at the end of last year and so far, have carried more than one million passengers over eight destinations - Kuala Lumpur, Honolulu, Osaka, Nagoya, Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, Phuket and Bali.

Owen Johnstone-Donnet (left) and Simon Westaway

He said besides the opportunity to increase the frequency of current flights, Jetstar was exploring opportunities to fly to Taiwan and South Korea.

Currently, only the Sydney-Osaka route has daily flights. Jetstar flies three times weekly from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur since its inaugural flight in September.

Without revealing the seat factor, Westaway said Jetstar's performance on the Sydney-Kuala Lumpur route “is currently meeting our expectations.”

The budget airline does not rule out future growth into Kuala Lumpur from other Australian cities.

“There is potential however for further international growth for our operations into Kuala Lumpur over the medium to longer term,” he added.

Jetstar, which is a wholly owned unit of Qantas Airways Ltd, complements its parent by covering leisure destinations while Qantas focuses on prime and business markets.

Last month, Qantas confirmed to buy up to 108 narrow-body planes, including 68 A320/321 aircraft and 40 options and purchase rights, to expand Jetstar size fleet.

Also, there is a provisional order of 17 A321s.

The low-fare airline has an existing fleet of 23 A320s and has previously announced an additional nine A320s for the Australian domestic operations to enter service between this month and March 2009.

Jetstar has remained profitable since it commenced operations in 2004. In the first half year, it posted a pre-tax profit of AU$23.3mil including international long-haul start up costs of AU$27mil.

By The Star (Stories by Yeow Pooi Ling)

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