Thai Vietjet eyes 8 new planes for fleet

Thai Vietjet eyes 8 new planes for fleet

Domestic passengers queue at TVJ's check-in counter at Suvarnabhumi airport. Varuth Hirunyatheb
Domestic passengers queue at TVJ's check-in counter at Suvarnabhumi airport. Varuth Hirunyatheb

Thai Vietjet (TVJ) will be ready to add eight new aircraft this year if the Chinese market returns by the fourth quarter, in the airline's best-case scenario.

It also aims for annual revenue growth of 20-30% in the next five years, under the assumption that air travel starts to pick up from its pandemic low.

Woranate Laprabang, TVJ chief executive, said fleet expansion is based on different scenarios, particularly borders reopening in Southeast Asia and East Asia.

At least four aircraft will be added to the current 16-aircraft fleet, in which each jet has 8-9 hours of utilisation per day, a dip from over 10 hours prior to the pandemic.

Mr Woranate said that if the Chinese market can resume international trips by the fourth quarter, TVJ will need eight new aircraft as routes in China alone will require at least three jets to serve the market.

He said that TVJ is still a small airline with room to grow. With a compact fleet during the pandemic, it was able to avoid a heavy burden from having a large number of grounded planes, and it has become more active in rolling out a business plan for post-pandemic services.

As it aims to generate 20-30% revenue growth per year, it will implement stringent cost-saving measures to maintain attractive airfares as well as monitor the market situation and competitors to adjust its plan.

The airline aims to push up the number of international passengers to 30% this year, from 5% in 2021. TVJ wants the international market to make up 70% of its overall passengers over the next five years.

"I believe we have already moved on from rock bottom. There will be more improvement in air travel from now because everyone wants to travel," Mr Woranate said.

TVJ previously expected to see 30% growth in 2021, but the goal was revised after uncertainties from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and higher risks of stagflation.

Mr Woranate said the Songkran festival, the most important holiday for Thais, should be allowed to proceed with caution, as it would give a clear signal to the international market about the country's reopening.

TVJ will soon operate international flights from Bangkok to neighbouring countries, including Phnom Penh on March 16, Ho Chi Minh City on March 17, Danang on March 27, and Singapore on April 28, while flights from Phuket to Singapore will start on June 2.

Pinyot Pibulsonggram, TVJ's head of commercial, said outbound travel from Thailand will gather pace from the second quarter as Thais will have more choices for overseas trips, especially to short-haul destinations.

The airline wants these international flights to three countries to hit a load factor of over 80% after seeing positive forward bookings for the routes.

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