The story claims that Qantas is pursuing a 'capital-light' deal under which a new ultra-premium airline based in Kuala Lumpur would:
- - Use 15 A330 aircraft due to be delivered to Malaysia Airlines;
- - Service Australia and other medium-haul destinations including China and India;
- - Provide multi-class service, not just business;and
- - Complement Malaysia Airlines' plans for a short-haul premium carrier.
Qantas is also said to be pursuing a code-share alliance with Malaysia Airlines with the ultimate aim of a revenue-sharing agreement similar to those it has with BA and AA.
The tone of the article suggests that this is far from a done deal: indeed we might speculate that its appearance is part of a Qantas strategy to gauge reaction or prompt some firming-up from the Malaysian end. The story indicates that Qantas still has a Singapore option in reserve, requiring $500m capital and using the A320neo aircraft already ordered.
I'm skeptical about the market for a new ultra-premium airline based in either Singapore or KL. I think it's very hard to see established customers being prized away from Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. The big growth in wealthy Asian travellers is going to come from China and India, but why would those passengers want to travel via Kuala Lumpur rather than direct to their destination on existing carriers?
In related news, Air Asia X has apparently received Malaysian regulatory approval to fly to Sydney.