UPDATE | February 17, 2012 | Air Australia has shut down after running out of cash. All planes have been grounded and all flights cancelled, leaving thousands of passengers stranded as administrators step in to take control of the airline. Read our latest story for more details.
PREVIOUS | So it's goodbye to Strategic Airlines and hello to Air Australia. Here's what you need to know about the 'new' airline ahead of its official launch on November 15.
Who is Strategic Airlines?
Although it's been running for 20 years, Strategic Airlines spent most of those two decades as a contract freight carrier, although from 2005 to 2010 it transported troops as well as cargo into the Middle East for the Australian government. Strategic commenced limited passenger flights in 2009, selling itself as a 'full service' leisure airline.
So what's with 'Air Australia'?
In the same way that Virgin Blue reinvented itself by becoming Virgin Australia, Strategic's new Air Australia brand marks a dramatic repositioning and expansion of the carrier. Air Australia will drop the full service approach and become a low-cost carrier and also add new routes and new aircraft.
Where will Air Australia fly to?
Air Australia will take over Strategic's current international leisure destinations of Bali and Phuket, and launch new services from Brisbane and Melbourne to Honolulu from December 14. This will be coupled with an onwards connection to the US mainland via a US-based partner airline.
The airline also plans to begin flights from Brisbane to China, most likely into Shanghai.
The current domestic routes from Brisbane and Perth to the mining hubs of Port Hedland and Derby will be joined by up to four daily services between Melbourne and Brisbane. A Brisbane-Darwin service is also on the cards.
It's pretty clear that Air Australia is strategically avoiding Sydney and gunning for Australia's second- and third-largest cities.
What aircraft will Air Australia use?
Air Australia's all-Airbus fleet currently includes three A320 and an A330, with a second A330 arriving in December for the Honolulu service.
Air Australia's livery is undeniably eye-catching: a lime-and-white fuselage where the green cleverly morphs into the lightest of golds, to play up the Australia's national colours in a refreshingly un-bogan manner, with touches of silver-grey. That's accompanied by more obvious boomerang-style flourishes in the logo, wingtips and tail.
The first Air Australia jet is already flying Strategic Airline routes, although Air Australia will officially 'launch' on Tuesday November 15.
Will Air Australia have business class?
Despite waving the low-cost carrier flag, the Brisbane-Honolulu and Melbourne-Honolulu services will include business class.
The cabin will sport five rows of premium seats in a 2-2-2 configuration.
These will be the recliner-style seats from the old days of business class, and many international carrier's 'regional business class' of today, rather than the more familiar lie-flat seats or fully flat beds.
Will Air Australia have a frequent flyer program?
Yes, although it's likely to be very different to the frequent flyer schemes you're familiar with.
"We want to come up with a scheme where, say, you fly nine times and you get your tenth flight free" says Air Australia CEO Michael James.