Philippine-based low-cost carrier Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR)/Tiger Airways is considering an initial public offering to raise funds for leasing more aircraft as it builds up its fleet for domestic and regional network expansion, its top executive says.
Driving that growth program is the carrier’s desire to transform itself into a “Filipino airline with a regional brand” after it changes its name to Tiger Airways this month, chief executive officer Olive Ramos said in an interview.
Ramos told PortCalls SEAIR/Tiger aims to bring up the quality of its planes and services to the standards of a regional carrier to make the airline appeal to foreign travelers, in addition to the Filipino communities scattered around Asia.
The airline is expanding its network of domestic and regional routes under the merged brand SEAIR/Tiger Airways after Singapore regional carrier Tiger bought a 40% stake in the company for $2.5 million last August.
“We intend to continue the expansion of our fleet to keep up with the growth in cargoes and passengers in the Philippines and in the region,” said Ramos, who was appointed as CEO of SEAIR in January this year after serving six years with DHL Supply Chain Philippines as president and managing director.
The carrier currently uses five leased Airbus A320 planes to service its routes and is planning to add two to three aircraft to its fleet each year over an indefinite period. It earlier said it is taking delivery of two new versions of the European-made planes this year.
“Our model is to lease aircraft so it will not be too capital-intensive. The plan is to have the growth fueled by capital infusion from our investors or through internally generated fund. In the future, we also plan to launch an IPO,” Ramos said.
Ramos said the rebranding is expected to take place this April, as soon as the airline receives approval to change its name from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the airline industry regulator.
“We have already filed our application to rebrand with the CAB and expect to change our name to Tiger once we get the approval,” Ramos said.
“We aim to create a Filipino airline that carries a regional brand and with a quality of service that would attract more foreign tourists to our country,” she said.
Such a strategy would not only improve the airline’s profitability but help the Philippine economy as well by boosting the tourism industry, she said.
To pursue this goal, Ramos said SEAIR/Tiger will launch marketing sorties around the region, starting with a mission to Hong Kong this month.
The airline flies from Clark Airport to Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong in addition to its daily flights to Cebu, Davao, Kalibo, Tacloban, Iloilo, General Santos and Puerto Princesa. On April 4, SEAIR began a regular service from Manila to Laoag.
In April, the carrier will begin charter flights every other day to the Chinese cities of Hangzhou, Shanghai, Ningbo, and Nanjing out of Kalibo and Cebu.
On March 21, the carrier launched its cargo service that seeks to tap into the steady growth of the Philippine economy.
“This is part of the model of the Tiger Group which SEAIR decided to replicate as we believe that it can gain traction in the Philippine market,” Ramos said.