Air Transport World

Regional aggression.

Australia's second-tier-airline operators are taking center stage for an ambitious expansionary push

The Australian domestic industry landscape, still dominated by majors Qantas and Ansett, is being redrawn by the likes of Kendell Airlines, Flight West Airlines and Impulse Airlines. Heavy re-equipment and capital-investment programs are being shouldered as the carriers reach new markets and rework old ones in an unprecedented display of pure aggression by the regionals.

Flight West, the country's largest independently owned airline, has brought jets into its once-all-turboprop fleet and launched itself on the high-yield international corridor to Papua New Guinea.

The growth bug also has been caught by Impulse Airlines, which is taking on new aircraft in an attempt to establish a network of hubs in New South Wales for services between the larger regional centers and Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

But by far the most dramatic initiative, one that is expected to revolutionize markets outside the trunk routes in Australia, is being undertaken by Ansett's regional flagship, Kendell Airlines.

The carrier, founded by local aviation pioneer Don Kendell, is locked into an explosive $A300 million ($186 million) expansion strategy with the first of 12 Canadair Regional Jets due to be delivered by Bombardier Aerospace in November, 1999.

In the next 2-3 years, Kendell expects to increase its employee base by 50%, double passenger numbers and triple RPKs flown--no mean feat for a relatively modest operation born out of the New South Wales rural heartland in Wagga Wagga. …

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