Ansett is dead. Long live the new Ansett?

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    Date : 4/8/2002
    Reporter: Alan Kohler

    The half owner of Virgin Blue, Chris Corrigan, might wish he could lock up control of the old Ansett airport terminals, along with Qantas, but it won't happen.

    Even if Sydney airport management had shaken hands on that kind of deal - as Corrigan claims and the airport denies - and even if there weren't the prospect of a new third airline, the ACCC and the Government would never allow it. And anyway, there will be a new third airline.
    I understand Singapore Airlines is currently talking to all the main airports about renting terminal gates, business club lounges and hangar space, for a new domestic airline to be launched later this year. If, or rather, when it gets off the ground, it will be a two-class business airline with discount fares for tourists in off-peak times.

    The Star Alliance, of which Ansett used to be a member, and Singapore Airlines is the leader in this part of the world, must have an Australian partner. It can't be a discount airline like Virgin Blue, and it can't be Air New Zealand, even though it's already a Star Alliance member, and it can fly in Australia - because it simply doesn't have the money.

    And anyway the Kiwis are talking to Qantas about a trans-Tasman alliance. So it'll have to be Singapore Airlines itself. It's got the money and a business plan which was prepared for the Ansett administrators earlier this year - but it was never used, because the administrators, fatefully, went with Solomon Lew and Lindsay Fox instead. The only thing missing is a name.

    The Singapore brains trust hasn't settled on one yet, but at this stage the most likely name is - Ansett! Why Ansett? Well, why not? Building brand awareness for a name nobody's ever heard of costs big money. The only question with the Ansett brand is whether it's been damaged beyond repair.

    That is being researched, but it may be that Australians don't really blame Ansett itself for what happened to it - only those who owned it, or who wanted to own it. So get ready for the possible resurrection of Ansett Airlines. And apparently there's a few staff with uniforms looking for jobs as well.
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