Jetstar-AirAsia alliance to influence narrowbody design

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The newly-formed Jetstar-AirAsia alliance hopes to influence the future design of narrowbody aircraft to better fit the needs of low-cost operations in Asia.

"Aircraft are generally designed for full-service carriers, what we need is an aircraft designed for low-cost carriers in Asia," says AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes.

He believes aircraft design can be enhanced to reflect the stresses on aircraft that are particular to low-cost operations, particularly regarding fuel savings and reliability issues. A solution, he adds, could be for manufacturers develop separate types of narrowbody aircraft for low cost carriers and full service carriers.

Reducing costs through better purchasing power and design influence over new narrowbody aircraft are the key features of Jetstar and AirAsia's new non-equity airline alliance, which the carriers announced today.

The alliance believes collective purchasing during the next round of narrowbody aircraft orders will deliver significant savings. "The AirAsia name carries a lot of clout," says Fernandes.

He also believes the alliance's purchasing power could be used beyond narrowbody aircraft. "There are no reasons why this can't be extended to includes widebodies as we both have Airbus A330s," he says.

Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan says that the partners have identified "many hundreds of millions of dollars of cost saving opportunities", but admitted most of this would come from aircraft design and purchase initiatives.

Other savings will come from agreements to cooperate on the provision of passenger and ground handling in Australia and within Asia at overlapping airports, and will pool inventory for aircraft components and spare parts. They will jointly procure engineering and maintenance supplies and services, with Jetstar saying that it will maintain its existing use of and commitment to Australian facilities. The alliance is also looking at the joint purchase of fuel.

Finally, there will be reciprocal arrangements for passenger management. This will allow them to support passenger disruptions and recovery onto the other airline's service across both of their networks.