Thai AirAsia (TAA), Thailand's largest low-cost carrier, will add seven more Airbus 320 jets to its fleet next year.
AirAsia took delivery of the first A320 equipped with new fuel-saving sharklet wing tips at the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France last Friday.
The move is aimed at supporting greater penetration of the Chinese and Indochinese air travel markets and enhancing its domestic network.
Chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld said the acquisition is consistent with the airline's growth plan and will see it finish 2013 with an all-A320 fleet of 34 aircraft.
These seven A320s to be delivered are more than the "four or five a year" earlier announced by the airline's executives.
The goal is for the fleet size eventually to reach 48.
With its booming out-bound travel market, China forms a crucial part of TAA's network expansion with the launch of three new routes this year _ from Bangkok to Chongqing, Wuhan and, most recently, Xi'an.
Besides these, TAA has long served the Chinese destinations of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau from the Thai capital.
Other Chinese cities on the drawing board are those within four hours from Bangkok, the maximum range of all TAA's all 180-seat Airbus 320 single-aisle jetliners.
This allows consideration of cities in southern, western and central China.
Among potential destinations are Kunming and Chengdu as well as Hunan province, whose Zhangjiajie prefecture was a filming location used by James Cameron for his Avatar (2009), said TAA executives.
Existing service that will see ramped-up frequencies early next year are those from Don Mueang airport to Phnom Penh, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Krabi and Hat Yai as well as the Chiang Mai-Hat Yai route.
TAA currently operates 87 flights a day on 30 routes _ 18 international and 12 domestic.
Meanwhile, TAA's Malaysian parent the AirAsia Group last Friday became the first airline to take delivery of an A320 equipped with new fuel-saving sharklet wing tips, at the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France.
This new A320 is the AirAsia Group's 115th aircraft and will be used by Malaysia AirAsia.
The group said another 33 of the sharklets-equipped aircraft will be delivered to various countries' AirAsia subsidiaries next year.
AirAsia has also recently announced a firm order for 100 more A320s including 36 A320ceo aircraft with sharklets.
Altogether, AirAsia has ordered 475 new single-aisle A320s from Airbus _ 264 A320neo aircraft and 211 A320ceo aircraft.
About the author
- Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business