Australia’s newest carrier applies for US flights


Australia’s newest passenger airline, Strategic Airlines, has signalled the most aggressive growth of its long-haul operations yet by applying for the rights to begin flights to the United States from September.

The airline applied to the International Air Services Commission last week to begin services across the Pacific, making it potentially the seventh carrier to fly between Australia and the US.

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Strategic, which is said to be preparing to change its name to

Advertisement: Story continues below Air Australia, is believed to be eyeing Honolulu initially, given its fleet of A330 aircraft do not have the range to fly non-stop to the US mainland. Jetstar and Hawaiian Airlines already fly between Australia and Honolulu.

The chief operating officer of Strategic, Damien Vasta, declined to say to which US mainland cities the airline could fly to through Honolulu.

But he hinted Strategic could seek to open up new routes not serviced by its larger competitors. ”We’re not in the business of trying to compete [head-to-head] with our mainline competitors.”

He also played down speculation that Strategic was trying to make itself enough of a nuisance in order to lure Virgin Blue into taking it over.

”We have certainly not done anything to this point with that in mind,” Mr Vasta said.

Strategic, which recorded a $9.3 million loss last financial year, could struggle to make a profit on the increasingly competitive route. Once considered Qantas’s golden route, profits have dried up since the entry of Virgin Blue’s long-haul arm, V Australia, and the Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.

Strategic is expected to use its second leased Airbus A330-200, which will be delivered later this year. It began flights to Phuket and Bali last year.