Thai AirAsia X officially launched

Posted on April 23, 2014

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Ten years ago, Thai AirAsia launched was very much reflecting the humble origin of the low cost carrier. The first foreign joint venture of Malaysian group AirAsia had rented a lounge at Don Mueang Airport and hosted its first press conference by inviting a local Thai pop band. A decade later, the venue for the launching of Thailand’s new air venture, Thai AirAsia X, was more glamorous: the Sofitel Sukhumvit hosted the event, followed by a lavish buffet. Female and male top models performed a dance to introduce the long-haul low cost carrier while a splash of sparkles and smoke unveiled the incredible low fare that the carrier will propose to fly to Seoul: slightly less than US$ 40 (THB 1,990) for a one-way ticket from Bangkok; including taxes.

Thai AirAsia X is ready to enter an already extremely competitive market. Thailand has one of the most liberal aviation environment in Southeast Asia.

Any airline is likely there to get traffic rights to Bangkok. The three new routes that Thai AirAsia will launch between June 17 and the end of July are already well served by the competition. Bangkok-Seoul is already served by seven carriers offering 445 flights per month with a capacity of 111,987 seats (June 2014- Flightmaps Innovata data). Tokyo is served currently by five airlines with 400 flights per month and a capacity of 56,000 seats.

Thai AirAsia X will just add extra capacity with the likely consequence that fares on these routes will continue to remain very low.

While Nadda Buranasiri, the new CEO of Thai AirAsia X stated of being “absolutely thrilled to be Thailand’s first low-cost, long-haul carrier”, he also admitted that competition will be tough. “However, we target a load factor of 80% while Thailand’s political situation is now normalizing. And we not only sell a low fare that will be between 20% to 50% cheaper than the average fare of the competition. We also capitalize on the strength of the AirAsia brand”, he explained. Japan and Korea have been chosen as the first countries to be served as they both offer free visa on arrival to Thai while there is an important demand from Japanese and Korean travellers towards Thailand. “ We will serve markets where travel is at ease also for Thai vacationers”, added Nadda Buranasiri.

The airline also capitalizes on synergies with AirAsia Group other carriers. “While Thai AirAsia’s (TAA) Airbus A320 planes continue to offer the best connectivity for short-haul destinations within the country and region, Thai AirAsia X will be operating Airbus A330-300 wide-body aircraft to destinations that are further than a 4 hour flight time from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport. Our new potential to reach further destinations will strengthen AirAsia’s extensive route network and create more affordable long-haul travel opportunities from Bangkok”, added Mr. Buranasiri.

According to Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia, transfer from Thai AirAsia into TAA X is likely to be in a range of 40% to 45%. Among potential other markets to be served by TAA X are possibly Chinese destinations beyond four hours out of Bangkok, Taiwan and potentially Australia. “We would also love to serve India but capacities are strictly controlled”, explained Tassapon Bijleveld.

Thai AirAsia X’s daily flights to Seoul will be operated by the Airbus A330-300 aircraft, with a total of 377 seats –365 of which are economy class seats, and 12 of which are Premium Flatbed. The airline will operate with the same low-cost model as AirAsia and guests will be able “pick and choose” from a wide variety of ancillary products including hot meals, comfort kits, baggage supersize options, hot seats with extra leg room, Premium Flatbed seats, and a Quiet Zone Cabin where there is minimal noise and less disturbance.

TAA X is the second long haul- low cost carrier within the AirAsia Group. However, a third subsidiary is due to join soon. Indonesia AirAsia X is in the starting blocks. According to Bernard Francis, Commercial Director of AirAsia X, the first flights are likely to be launched before the end of the year out of Denpasar…

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