THAI Smile spreading wings after ICAO red flag removal

THAI Smile spreading wings after ICAO red flag removal

THAI Smile plans more route in the second half of this year. (THAI Smile photo)
THAI Smile plans more route in the second half of this year. (THAI Smile photo)

THAI Smile Airways, a wholly owned subsidiary of Thai Airways International, is planning to add new routes across Asia in the second half this year.

The extensions came after the removal of the red flag on safety restriction given by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in October last year.   

Chatchai Panyoo, acting chief executive of THAI Smile, said some additional routes would begin in August this year but most of the new services will start in October.

In August, new scheduled services from Bangkok to Kolkata in India will start. In October, Phuket-Hong Kong route will be kicked off, along with Bangkok-Hong Kong and Bangkok- Hangzhou in China. 

He said that the Phuket-Hong Kong route was being operated by THAI and would be transferred to THAI Smile from October onward.

The airline will also operate charter flight service with 1-3 flights per week for Bangkok-Fukuoka to meet stronger demand during the coming high season. 

China and India will become more important markets for the airline in the future due to strong growth, Mr Chatchai said.

“The airline will be able to open new routes across Asia region after the red flag removal from ICAO,” he said.

The country was red-flagged by the UN aviation watchdog in June 2015 for failing to adequately deal with "significant safety concerns".

Moreover, THAI Smile will increase frequencies for three existing routes to China -- Chongqing, Changsha, and Guangzhou -- and one route to Bombay.

For the domestic market, it has planned to increase some domestic flights for Udon Thani, Chiang Rai and Khon Kaen in October.

According to Mr Chatchai, average aircraft utilisation, an important measure of operational efficiencies, is expected to increase from 8.6 hours currently to 10.1 hours after increasing the frequencies and adding more routes by the final quarter of this year.

The airline also expected that revenue would grow due to more capacity and the average cabin factor is set to stay above 80% throughout this year.  

Currently, THAI Smile operates 10 domestic routes and 18 international routes including to Yangon, Siem Reap, Penang, Jaipur, Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Kuala Lumpur.

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