DAVID KNIBB SEATTLE
Changes are underway at Ansett Airlines following a strategic review by Air New Zealand's (ANZ) directors, including its new board members from part-owner Singapore Airlines (SIA)
In Australia, Ansett is bidding to take over its regional partner, Hazelton Airlines. One of Australia's last independent regionals, Hazelton has had close ties with Ansett since 1993, but ANZ now wants Hazelton to become a part of Ansett.
ANZ's move is fueled by intra-state deregulation in New South Wales, which has prompted rival Qantas Airways to boost its regional services, and also by the aggressive growth of Impulse Airlines. Both have convinced Ansett of its need for closer control of Hazelton, and for closer co-ordination between Hazelton and Kendell Airlines, another regional division of Ansett.
In October Ansett bought 20% of Hazelton's shares and made a A$15million ($8 million) offer to buy the rest at a 36% premium.
On new international flights from Australia, except those to and from New Zealand, it is clear that ANZ now plans to push the Ansett brand rather than its own. Even though it only owns half of Ansett International, ANZ concedes that Australians prefer Ansett. It also helped its own cause when a UK-based inflight research service recently said Ansett had the world's best business class.
Ansett has added new codeshares to Europe with SIA, and it launched Melbourne-Hong Kong flights in November. But its biggest venture is planned for early next year when it hopes to start its own nonstops from Sydney to Los Angeles. Ansett has spent a year targeting US corporations to help boost its presence in the USA.
ANZ also operates Sydney-Los Angeles, but it has chosen Ansett to operate new Australia-USA flights. Details have not been released, but it is widely suspected that Ansett will use aircraft acquired from SIA.
ANZ has recently appointed a new chief executive, Gary Toomey, who has intimate knowledge of the Australian airline industry, having been poached from Qantas, where he was deputy chief executive.
Source: Airline Business