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World's biggest low-cost carrier group offers travellers more convenience and wider choice

Travellers will soon be able to book flights on up to eight low-cost airlines on one website, as part of a new tie-up between eight Asian budget carriers, including Singapore Airlines subsidiaries Scoot and Tigerair.

Created earlier this month, the Value Alliance - the world's biggest grouping of budget airlines - also includes Tigerair Australia; Cebu Pacific (including subsidiary Cebgo) in the Philippines; South Korea's Jeju Air; Vanilla Air in Japan; and Thailand's Nok Air and NokScoot.

Through the partnership - an apparent move against heavyweight budget carriers AirAsia and Jetstar - travellers will be able to view, select and book seats on flights from any of the eight member carriers in a single transaction, from each partner's website.

This brings convenience and access to more destinations and route options, the airlines said at the group's launch yesterday.

Together, they operate 176 aircraft to more than 160 destinations across the region, and carried more than 47 million travellers last year.

Travellers will also be able to confirm seats and meals, as well as baggage allowances and other on-board features, in a single itinerary.

Mr Campbell Wilson, chief executive of Scoot, said: "By working together, we can offer our guests a wider choice of destinations and flights at the most competitive airfares, all in one go."

For now, the cooperation, in most cases, does not include through check-in, which means passengers with connecting flights must collect their bags and check in again for the second or third flight.

But those who miss connecting flights because of an earlier delay can be assured that arrangements will be made for them to be put on the next available flight, at no extra cost.

Deeper ties are not ruled out and the group will continue to explore new opportunities that will benefit customers.

On why AirAsia and Jetstar were excluded from the group and whether they would be welcomed, Mr Wilson said the key focus of the alliance is to grow distribution channels and networks.

"Would we want to share that with other airline groupings? We are doing this for our own strategic reasons.

"The fact that you don't see some airlines here is self-explanatory," he said.

AirAsia's share of the Asian budget travel market is about 15 per cent, while Jetstar has about 9 per cent.

The AirAsia group has about 200 aircraft run by eight carriers in five countries - Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and India - that fly to over 120 destinations.

Jetstar, with airlines in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Vietnam, has a total fleet of 122 aircraft that fly to 17 countries and 75 destinations, a spokesman told The Straits Times.

With the number of travellers booking connecting flights on budget carriers expected to grow, the new alliance is timely, analysts said.

Part-time tutor Alicia Tan, 23, said: "There are independent travel sites you can go to but if there was one run by the airlines themselves, I would opt for that. I reckon it would be more reliable."

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