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New General Manager For Freedom Air Comes Aboard

15 November 2004

New General Manager For Freedom Air Comes Aboard

As Freedom Air marks its ninth year of operation, the low cost, low fare carrier is also celebrating the arrival of new General Manager, Stephen Jones, who takes the helm today.

After a four year stint with Air New Zealand, Mr Jones will step into the airline's top role replacing Michael Young who has been Freedom's acting GM following the death of Wayne Dodge earlier this year. The pair will effectively swap roles as Young takes up a strategic management position within Air New Zealand.

Mr Jones says he enters Freedom Air at a time when competition is very tough but the airline is in excellent shape and working to a sustainable business model, which signals a very strong and rewarding future.

"I'm very fortunate to be moving into this role following two very successful leaders who have taken Freedom to a very healthy position in the market place.

"As a low-cost, low fare airline, based on an uncomplicated business model, Freedom has the ability to cope with market changes and survive in an increasingly competitive environment. Regardless of what happens in the market - we will not be undercut on price."

Jones says the airline's mantra is to keep its costs down by not having extras. "We cater for the point-to-point leisure market and believe in simplicity. Complexity comes at a price. This approach is what enables us to continue to offer the lowest fares and I intend to continue to foster this as we focus on growing our fleet and market share."

Jones says while Freedom Air is 100% owned by Air New Zealand and strategic direction is co-ordinated, the airline has an extremely proud legacy as an independent operation.

"Different people want different services. Freedom's market share proves that there is strong demand for our low cost, low fare product. We have an important role to play In Air New Zealand's portfolio but we run our day-today business on our own model. In the last year Freedom flew more than 520,000 customers, highlighting the important role we have in the trans-Tasman market."

He says another focus for Freedom is to continue to streamline direct booking services. "Online booking currently accounts for 75% of Freedom fare bookings and this remains the cheapest way to buy a Freedom fare. We will continue to offer new and innovative online services, such as the recently launched Live Help, to ensure online booking is a simple and easy process for our customers.

Jones says Freedom's future will see the airline continue to investigate new destinations within the five hour radius, which are compatible with Freedom's aircraft and operating model.

"Next month we're adding a fifth aircraft to our fleet, increasing our capacity by 25%. From mid 2005 we will move to a fleet of Airbus A320 aircrafts which seat more passengers and enables us to look at new destinations that are compatible with those aircraft."

"But for the moment it's business as usual - and of course there will be a few celebrations as we head into the 10th year of operation."


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