Bangkok Airways has set its sights on introducing two new routes to its regional network next year, with Mandalay and Krabi the next ports of call.
Bangkok Airways president Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth (centre) gathers with other executives and pilots in front of the latest Airbus A320 to enter the airline’s service at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Executives of the airline said plans are being firmed up for the launch of two daily flights from Bangkok-Krabi in April and four flights a week from Bangkok-Mandalay in September.
The two routes were chosen due to their rising demand, which other players including Thai AirAsia have already taken advantage of.
But Bangkok Airways is keen on operating more flights out of its second hub of Koh Samui next year, although this is subject to regulatory restrictions.
The privately owned airline is seeking permission from environmental authorities to raise the maximum number of flights allowed through Koh Samui airport to 50 a day from 38 at present.
Bangkok Airways, which also owns and operates the airport, has requested the airport's flight times, which now run from 6am to 10pm, be extended an extra hour to 11pm.
Executives said 31 of the 38 flights now permitted for Koh Samui are operated by Bangkok Airways, with the rest going to Thai Airways, Singapore's SilkAir and Malaysia's Firefly.
Receiving permission for the additional flights, which is proving an uphill task, will be instrumental for Bangkok Airways' bid to introduce more international routes to the popular resort island.
Two cities _ Taipei and Shanghai _ are on the airline's radar screen as possible links with Koh Samui in addition to Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, which are already served.
"We want to diversify our international market [from Koh Samui] so as not to put all our eggs in one basket," said one Bangkok Airways executive.
Its own Koh Samui flights and airport operation have been a cash cow for the airline, which celebrates its 45th anniversary next year.
The executive said airline seats available for air travellers to and from Koh Samui cannot catch up with fast-growing demand, as reflected by the numbers of hotel rooms there, now at 10,000 and rising.
Boosting frequencies on existing routes will be another main strategy next year, with Bangkok-Male service bumped up to five flights a week in April from four now and Bangkok-Luang Prabang flights increasing from the present two.
Frequencies on the Koh Samui-Phuket and Bangkok-Chiang Mai routes may be raised to six flights a day on each, while Koh Samui-Chiang Mai service could rise to seven flights a day.
Next year's new routes and frequency increases will be accommodated by two new jets _ an A319 and an A320 _ which are due to join the fleet.
Bangkok Airways recently took delivery of two leased A320 jets, raising the numbers of aircraft in its fleet to 21 _ eight ATR-72 turboprops, five A320s, and eight A319s.
The airline now operates 120 flights a day serving 20 cities in Thailand and abroad.
About the author
- Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business