The Australian long-haul leisure market is heating up with start-up Backpackers Xpress applying for route approvals from Australia to Germany, India, Thailand and the UK. Fellow start-up Leisurejet is also looking at routes to Asia and southern Europe.

Last month Backpackers Xpress applied to Australia's International Air Services Commission to fly five services a week from Melbourne to Bangkok, two services a week to Munich, three weekly services to Manchester and for the available capacity of 2,100 seats a week to Delhi.

Backpackers is up against Qantas in its plans for UK and Indian services, with the Australian major seeking the seven additional weekly services to the UK that are available, in addition to the full 2,100-seats weekly capacity to India. Backpackers says it has a strong application for the services and is also planning to serve New Zealand.

It is aiming at European backpackers, operating two Boeing 747-400s in a one-class configuration, and plans a November launch. In-flight entertainment will include an onboard pub, karaoke and personal DVD players.

The airline is being formed by tourism executive Glenn Millen and former Qantas pilot Gordon Layton. Chief executive of airline operations will be Gene Mashlan, former managing director of European tour operator MyTravel Aviation (Airtours) and chief executive of MyTravel Airways.

Meanwhile, Leisurejet is planning to serve Greece and Italy via Kuala Lumpur from Sydney and Melbourne from the third quarter of this year. Local reports say the start-up is seeking funds of A$34 million ($26 million).


Source: Flight International