Why Tigerair is cancelling in-flight meals right now
Changes are coming (and fares are going up).
This week I received a slightly unexpected text message from Tigerair about an upcoming flight booking. Receiving a text from an airline always induces a sense of panic (cancellations ahoy!), but this wasn't that. Well, not quite.
"The tigerbites menu is getting a revamp so unfortunately food and drink will be temporarily unavailable for your upcoming flight. Sorry for the inconvenience and thanks for understanding," it read.
No catering doesn't bother me in the slightest. The only times I've ever paid for food on Tigerair has been to review it. I can confirm that its toasted cheese and ham sandwich is better than Jetstar's. But usually on a domestic flight, I'm not going to pay inflated onboard prices for a snack.
That planned menu change reflects ongoing revamps at Tigerair, which is trying to claw its way into profitability. Virgin Australia, which owns the airline, released its latest financial results yesterday. For the half year, Tigerair lost $8 million, which sounds bad but is actually a 135% improvement.
So where did the money come from? A 14.2% increase in yield and an 11.5% reduction in capacity. In other words, Tigerair ticket prices went up and it dumped routes where it seemed unlikely it would ever make money. (Bad luck, Melbourne to Townsville.)
I noted recently that the days of Tigerair offering sub-$20 fares are over, and these results confirm it. Tigerair needs to make more money from each seat if it's going to survive in the long term. It's not going to hit Qantas or Virgin-level prices, but those super-cheap options are going to become rarer.
From that perspective, I don't expect the in-flight food will be missing for too long. Why pass up the chance to make a little more money from each passenger? Meanwhile, I'll just pack my own snacks, but make sure I'm still under the 7kg carry-on limit.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on Finder.