Budget airlines enjoy 30% jump in passenger traffic

Low-cost carrier (LCC) passenger traffic through Thailand surged by nearly 30% in the first half of this year, underlining the proliferation of budget air travel that has been eroding the market share of full-service airlines.

No-frills airlines carried 28.65% more passengers to record 13.58 million, representing 31.08% of all passenger traffic through the kingdom's six main airports including Suvarnabhumi.

LCC aircraft movements also rose by 19.61% in the first half, accounting for 33.08% of the take-offs and landings made through airports operated by the Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT).

Aggregate numbers of LCC and full-service passengers passing through those airports in the first half were 43.68 million, up from 37.03 million.

Rising in tandem with passengers were aircraft movements of both no-frills and full-service airlines, whose numbers jumped 15.95% in the period to 282,102, according to AoT figures.

The surge in LCC traffic was attributed largely to the aggressive expansion of two key players, Thai AirAsia (TAA) and Nok Air, and the outlook for 30-40% growth in the second half of this year.

TAA chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld warned that the expected growth rate depends on Thailand's political stability, which dictates the pace of the tourism industry and its impact on air passenger traffic.

LCC traffic growth will be driven by the increased capacity of some budget airlines, particularly TAA, which is due to take delivery of five more A320 jets to build its fleet size to 35 by the end of this year.

Stronger high-season travel demand in the final quarter will also make a significant contribution to second-half growth, Mr Tassapon told the Bangkok Post yesterday.

TAA, the country's largest LCC, accounts for about 50% of the LCC market.

In the first half, TAA's passenger volume grew by 23% to 5 million and the airline is on track to transport 10 million people in the whole of 2013.

About the author

Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business