Bangkok lures budget fliers
Bangkok is increasingly becoming a port of call for more discount carriers, increasing the likelihood existing players will ramp up their frequencies.
Two new airlines _ Scoot, Singapore’s newest low cost carrier (LCC), and THAI Smile, described as a “light premium regional sub-brand” by parent Thai Airways International _ recently started flying through Suvarnabhumi airport.
On July 5 Scoot, part of Singapore Airlines, began daily flights from Bangkok-Singapore, the ninth most popular route in Southeast Asia based on available seats, using a wide-body B777 jetliner.
THAI Smile inaugurated its operation on July 7 with the launch of twice daily flights between Bangkok and Macau, using a 174-seat A320.
On Aug 10, Spring Airlines, China’s first and only LCC, is scheduled to wing in as it opens a direct link between Bangkok and Shanghai. On the same day, IndiGo, India’s largest LCC, will launch a second daily from Bangkok to New Delhi, catering to growing demand on this city pair.
The entry of additional international LCCs reflects Thailand’s reputation as one of the most popular Asian holiday destinations, especially among budget-conscious independent travellers.
These travellers are the main clients of no-frills airlines whose fares are about 30-40% lower than full-service airlines.
“There is a good chance we could see more international LCCs coming to Bangkok,” said an industry analyst.
Including Spring, there are 18 discount airlines operating through Bangkok, mostly through Suvarnabhumi, the key international gateway to the kingdom.
South Korea has the most LCCs serving Bangkok: Jeju Air, Jin Air, T’Way Airlines and recently Eastar Jet.
Thai AirAsia is the cock of the walk for LCCs in Thailand, expecting 8 million passengers on its network this year.
In the nine months to June, combined LCC passengers passing through Suvarnabhumi reached 8.27 million, 4.57 million of which were domestic and 3.70 million international, according to figures from Airports of Thailand Plc.
LCC passenger throughput at Bangkok’s other airport, Don Mueang, in the same period amounted to 1.39 million.