Thai AirAsia to land more flights in India

Thai AirAsia to land more flights in India

Thai AirAsia, a joint venture of Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia and Thailand’s Asia Aviation, has planned to spread its wings in India, by commencing flights to more destinations.

The airline will begin its maiden flight service between Bengaluru (Kempegowda International Airport) and Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi International Airport) on September 1, 2015, at a modest ticket price of Rs 3,999. The flights are scheduled five days a week (barring Wednesday and Saturday).

“Bengaluru is strategically located in terms of our range of routes. The flight time of all AirAsia flights across destinations and routes is not more than 3-4 hours, and Bengaluru is located just three-and-half hours away from Bangkok. Besides, the former is a perfect destination in connecting Thais to India, with over 700 Thai students studying in Bengaluru,” Thai AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Tassapon Bijleveld told Deccan Herald.

“Our main target includes first-time fliers, and it must be stated that over 80 per cent of AirAsia’s market constitutes leisure travelers. As a short-haul airline, we will also be aiming at a quick turnaround time, which will help sustain our business better over our limited range,” he added.

Thai AirAsia has been in India for almost six years, when it served the destinations of Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. But owing to competition and steep fuel prices, it suspended all services, except Chennai.

“After a long, careful wait-and-watch approach, we are back, and will add two more destinations by next year, following Bengaluru,” Bijleveld said.

The company is motivated by the growth in India, along with disposable income and willingness to fly. Also, Indians have always viewed Thailand as a value-for-money tourist destination, with around 946,000 Indian tourists visiting the country last year.

The newly launched connectivity will also connect travelers from Kochi, Goa, Pune, Jaipur, Chandigarh, New Delhi and Visakhapatnam through AirAsia India, and visitors to Thailand, may connect to 45 Asian destinations through Thai AirAsia.

More flights, more load
Thai AirAsia aims to have at least seven weekly flights, which is not permitted at present, owing to the terms of the bilateral agreement between the Indian and Thai governments. “We also expect to have at least two daily flights between Bengaluru (and other Indian destinations) and Bangkok, and are working towards a load factor of 85 per cent by year-end,” Bijleveld added.

Talking about competition, he said that it would not be fair to compare a low-cost airline with a flag carrier, or a legacy airline, but by being in India with a unique offering, Thai AirAsia will indeed hold a market share of its own.

The $1-billion airline, whose fleet has around 45 Airbus A320 aircraft, is steadily growing at a CAGR of 15-20 per cent, and holds around 50 per cent of Thailand’s airline market.

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