Dr. Cheong Choong Kong - former Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chairman of the prestigious airline - said that, "management will want to have the first word to reveal their plans, but the study has started and it is at quite an advanced stage."
Asked on whether another airline in Australia was sustainable, he said, "I think so - it's a matter of branding and finding your own niche and understanding your competition."
He added that he felt more optimistic about the Australian aviation market six to twelve months ago, "when things were getting somewhere but ... there seems to be a pause, probably because of the uncertainty related to the Qantas-Air New Zealand union."
Now chairman of Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), Dr. Cheong said that joining another airline would be, "unthinkable."
"I am now into banking, but I think I will always be an airline man at heart," he told today's Tourism Task Force forum. "Like a Bundy and coke, it's hard to get it out of your blood."
The Tourism Task Force International Leadership Award recognises the good Doctor's contribution to the growth of Australian tourism and relations between the country and Singapore.
"Clearly Singapore Airlines has identified Australia as a market with a lot of potential because Singapore effectively doesn't have its own domestic market and it is keen to tap into Australia, which is quite a lucrative market," said Jason Smith of Smith Barney. He estimates that during the first few years of srevice, such an airline would incurr losses of between A$200 and A$400 million / US$135 400 000 and US$270 800 000. In addition, an agreement with Qantas to provide Singapore Airlines passengers with cheaper domestic fares could vanish.
"You would have to question whether they would want to set up in Australia and compete with a well established and competitive carrier such as Qantas and where they would position themselves against the budget carrier Virgin Blue," he added.
More information at the Asia Pulse / Yahoo website, the TravelBiz.Com.Au website and the Sydney Morning Herald website