Qantas has announced plans to launch a "premium airline" based in Asia, as it looks to take advantage of growing middle class demand in countries including India and China.
The as yet unnamed airline will not carry the Qantas name, and will take the form of a joint venture, with "a new brand, new aircraft and an exciting new look and feel".
Qantas has yet to disclose who it will partner with for the new airline, or where in Asia it will be based, with CEO Alan Joyce saying that "we have narrowed down our location options and an announcement will be made when we have completed negotiations".
The plans come as Qantas has also announced the creation of Jetstar Japan, a domestic low-cost carrier formed under in partnership with Japan Airlines and Mitsubishi Corportation (click here for more information).
Joyce said that Jetstar Japan would create a feeder network for Qantas and Jetstar services to and from Tokyo and Osaka, but said that it was "absolutely clear that the future of Asia is not just about low-fares airline travel", hence the plans for a second, premium carrier alongside Jetstar Japan.
Joyce said that within 20 years 16 per cent of the world's middle class will be in East Asia, and pointed to the "many, many millions of premium travellers in-waiting" in the region.
He added that while the new premium airline will not be called Qantas, it will "leverage all our Qantas know-how, making the most of our excellence in brand management, aviation safety, customer experience, finance, marketing, and our valuable corporate customer relationships".
The move is one of a raft of announcements being made by Qantas today, as part of a new "International Strategy". Other changes include the restructuring of the Joint Services Agreement between Qantas and BA, investment in lounges and aircraft refurbishment, and the loss of around 1,000 job - for more information click here.
Report by Mark Caswell