Will Canberrans forgive Tigerair for the delayed flights and cancellations so many of us experienced when they last flew in and out of the capital?
The low-cost carrier is set to return to Canberra five years after it was last here, offering daily discounted flights between Melbourne and the capital from December 9, coinciding with the beginning of school holidays and the opening of the National Gallery of Australia’s summer blockbuster exhibition from Versailles.
Fares and timetables will be announced later this week.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority grounded Tiger in August 2011, putting an end to its flights between Canberra and Melbourne after about two-and-a-half years of operation.
Many of us will want to try to new Tigerair service despite having some bad memories from last time the airline was here. Existing flights are prohibitively expensive. There is no train service. The drive to the Victorian capital, whether by car or bus, takes several hours.
But many of us also recall the time a Tiger flight was cancelled leaving us stranded, or delayed by so many hours that we missed the event we were travelling interstate for in the first place. One friend missed a wedding. I doubt she’ll be flying Tiger again, though the story the CEO of Tigerair told at the announcement of its return to Canberra today was directed very much at people like her, and was convincing.
Rob Sharp spent much of his speech reassuring his audience that delays and cancellations were no longer an issue, emphasising the fact that Tigerair is now 100 per cent owned by Virgin Australia, and has rebranded from the Tiger Airways of old to a different beast, Tigerair.
“Those two milestones signalled a major transformation for the business,” the CEO said.
“We’ve invested heavily in the business. We’ve reviewed every part of the operation. The trick was to actually put the customer at the core of everything we’re doing.
“I’m thrilled to say that it’s working. Our customers are telling us consistently that they want affordable, reliable air travel, a friendly service, and we’re delivering.
Mr Sharp said the transformation had meant an investment in on-time performance.
“Everyone wants to get there on time. We have the highest on-time arrivals and departures within the low-cost carriers in Australia.
“We have the lowest cancellation rate of all airlines domestically, and we’ve invested heavily in the product to make booking with us and flying with us as easy as possible.”
He said all of this meant the airline’s customers were now happy.
“80 per cent of them are now saying they’re satisfied with flying Tiger, recommending us to their friends and family, and ultimately voting with their feet, saying that this is value for money.”
He said the company had set up a new call centre, a new website and mobile app and a special new iPad app to improve check-in procedures.
“It’s a new-look Tigerair that’s coming to Canberra, and we’re very confident the community here will embrace us when we start services.”
Will you give the new-look Tigerair a go?
Pictured are Tigerair Australia CEO Rob Sharp, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron.