Thai AirAsia gets started at 2nd hub
Thai AirAsia has expanded to a second hub in Thailand at Suvarnabhumi airport, following its existing hub at Don Mueang, in hopes of capturing a larger share of the domestic market and increasing revenue.
Last year the airline carried 22.15 million passengers, while this year’s volume is estimated at 9.3 million. The year-to-date figure is 6 million.
Travel restrictions stemming from the coronavirus crisis have constrained openings for international flights, giving Thai AirAsia a chance to re-enter Suvarnabhumi, Thailand’s gateway airport.
The low-cost carrier will cater to domestic travel groups and potentially provide a connecting hub for international flights once normal travel resumes.
Thai AirAsia has resumed 90% of its pre-pandemic domestic service, totalling 109 daily flights to 39 destinations in Thailand. There are 97 flights from Don Mueang and 12 from Suvarnabhumi.
The company is currently operating 37 of its 62 aircraft, of which four are flying from Suvarnabhumi to four main destinations: Chiang Mai, Phuket, Surat Thani and Krabi.
Advance booking for each flight at present is 50-60%. But chief executive Santisuk Klongchaiya optimistically predicts a higher load factor of 80% or more in the coming high season after the government approved additional long holidays and tourism stimulus packages.
If the two-month trial period at Suvarnabhumi shows positive demand, AirAsia plans to relocate one more plane to the fleet there by the end of 2020. The airline is still awaiting slot approval for flights from November onward.
“Prices must be competitive in order to capture more demand, and whenever prices dip the lowest due to promotional stimulus packages, that is when we see demand surge the most,” Mr Santisuk said.