Tuesday, July 5

Thai AirAsia X upbeat on prospects


KUALA LUMPUR: Thai AirAsia X Co Ltd (Thai AirAsia X) is upbeat on prospects in the Thai aviation market and is looking to serve 200,000 travellers in the first year of its operation.

Chief executive officer Nadda Buranasiri said the new low-cost budget airline would be flying into three Asian destinations from June 17, while planning to add China to its routes next year.

“You will see a spiderweb of AirAsia Bhd’s (AirAsia) expanding network once we start operations. That will make potential travellers in Asean having a greater choice of travel destinations,” he added.

Nadda told the Malaysian media this at the regional media briefing on  Thai AirAsia X at the Dong Mueang International Airport recently.

Thai AirAsia X started operations on April 22 and will commence direct flights at the Dong Mueang International Airport on June 17 to South Korea’s Incheon International Airport.

The airline will also commence direct flights on its Japan routes a month later and it involves the Narita and Kansai International Airports. Thai AirAsia X is a 48.9 per cent subsidiary of AirAsia.

Nadda said Thailand’s consumer behaviour had changed following the entry of low-cost airlines such as Thai AirAsia into the country’s travel market 10 years ago.

“Online bookings are normal in the life of younger travellers compared to a decade ago when people travelled to other destinations, even within the country, via packaged tours,” he added.

He noted that Thai AirAsia X would be focusing on brand building in the first year of its operations before expanding its routes and fleet.

It will operate two leased A330-300 wide-body aircraft to the three destinations.

The aircraft are considered new with two ranging from about five to six years old.

Nadda said Thai AirAsia X is allocating between US$8 million and US$10 million as capital expenditure towards maintaining the aircraft.

Looking ahead, the airline is cautiously optimistic of the future and in respect of expansion plans, against the backdrop of the political, social and economic situation in Thailand.

“Right now, it looks very promising. It also depends very much on the situation in time. But we are prepared to add more aircraft if the signs are good,” said Nadda.

“We see a lot of people coming from China to Thailand. At the same time, Thai travellers like to explore more of China. So, we are looking to add the country to our routes,” he said. — Bernama