Jetstar takes major step towards Europe with Singapore hub

Budget airline Jetstar has taken a major step towards low-cost flights to Europe with the announcement it will begin long-haul routes from a new base in Singapore later this year.

The Qantas no-frills offshoot will become the first long-haul budget carrier to operate out of the city-state when it receives the first of two new Airbus A330-200 aircraft in December.

Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan said the airline's first routes out of Singapore would be announced in coming weeks and would either be into Australia, northern Asia or Europe - most likely Rome or Athens.

Rome and Athens were selected by a combination of market opportunities and the capabilities of the A330 aircraft, Mr Buchanan said.

"With A330s, if we were to go into northern Europe we would suffer a significant payload restriction ... and Qantas already serves London quite extensively," he said.

"Southern Europe offered an attractive market and no one else was really serving that market."

Mr Buchanan said the airline would employ up to 200 new staff to be based at the Singapore hub.

Jetstar has 25 Boeing 787 Dreamliners on order, some of which are also likely to be based in Singapore.

Mr Buchanan said the longer range of the Dreamliner would deliver opportunities for more destinations and bases, including other parts of Europe.