Tiger wants "profitable" new bases as part of expansion

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Profitability will be the key criteria in Tiger Airways' search for new operating bases, says the CEO of the Singapore-based low cost carrier.

Tiger, which has bases in Singapore and Australia, raised S$247.7 million ($176 million) from its recent initial public offering. It plans to use the money to start up new operating bases, fund its network expansion and acquire new aircraft.

Malaysia-based rival AirAsia has Asian bases in Indonesia and Thailand, and said earlier this month that it plans to have another one in Vietnam. Tiger, however, is not trying to play catch-up, says CEO Tony Davis.

"The key driver for us is profit. It's not a land grab, it's not about putting a flag on the map," says Tony Davis. "The trick now is to pick the right opportunity and the right market."

Tiger had plans to set up associate carriers in South Korea and the Philippines, but dropped those citing the economic downturn and regulatory uncertainty. "Walking away from Korea at that time was a right thing, that was absolutely the right decision," says Davis.

The carrier remains interested in both markets and internal discussions have begun about possible new bases, but it has not made any specific plans yet, he adds.

The carrier posted a net profit of S$14.1 million ($10 million) in its fiscal third quarter, rebounding from losses in the same period a year ago.

Tiger says both its Singapore and Australia operations are profitable, although it has not said how much each business contributed to the income.