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New Aussie Airline Within Months


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IT may not have a name yet, but Australia will have a new domestic airline this year, from as early as November.

Melbourne businessman Cenap Kahyaoglu has pledged to launch his carrier with 88 weekly return flights between Sydney and Melbourne, with plans to extend services to the Gold Coast.


While his timing may not be great, given the aviation industry is in the midst of its toughest period in decades, Mr Kahyaoglu said his financial backers were determined to crack the market.


The unnamed carrier will be launched by a company called VivaJet Airlines, a business Mr Kahyaoglu set up in 2006 and will initially target the Sydney-Melbourne trunk route before eyeing services into the Gold Coast.


In its start-up phase, the airline will fly four Embraer E-190 jets before adding one Embraer E-170, the jet model that Virgin Blue bought last year to service its regional expansion.


Mr Kahyaoglu said he would not be adopting a low-cost model, but would primarily target the business community, something that cashed-up entrepreneur Paul Stoddart spectacularly failed to pull off with his OzJet operation in 2005.


"You can discuss whether there is the need for another airline or not, but our plans are not to expand to a fleet of 60 or 70, we want to stay relatively small and compete with the service rather than pricing," he said.


"If everything goes to plan, we should be in the air in November, but I would not be surprised if it is delayed two or three weeks.


"We are not a low-cost carrier. I would not say we will be a business traveller airline, but that is more our target."


With the help of financial backers in Germany and the US, VivaJet Airlines will initially lease the Embraer jets for two years.


If successful in its operations between Sydney and Melbourne – already one of the highest trafficked routes in the world – the airline will launch flights to the Gold Coast, Adelaide and Hobart.


But while brimming with enthusiasm, Mr Kahyaoglu steps into the Australian aviation scene with a notorious history.


The businessman was piloting a tandem paraglider over the Babadag Range in southwest Turkey in 1998 when his tourist passenger fell to her death.


He confirmed his involvement in the accident yesterday, saying his passenger's harness failed.


"Yes, it happened many years ago. We didn't know what happened at the time, and after long testing and court cases, it was finally revealed that there was a manufacturing fault," he said.


"It was finally revealed that it was not my fault and not my passenger's fault. But sadly, someone lost their life."


A spokesman from a rival carrier claimed the new operator had many hurdles to jump before successfully launching this year.




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