Enhancing entry process key to reinforcing revival

Enhancing entry process key to reinforcing revival

Bangkok Airways is anticipating faster tourism growth if Thailand is able to provide a smoother and more consistent entry process, particularly from the European market, which could help the firm beat its passenger target.

"The number of guests grew more than 10% each time the country implemented relaxed entry rules, but also suddenly dropped every time the government instantly changed its stance without informing tourists in advance," said Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, president of Bangkok Airways.

Mr Puttipong said the company's performance in the first quarter this year was 20% better than projected, mainly attributed to simplified travel rules for entry into Thailand which lured an influx of international travellers during this period, particularly from Europe which accounted for around 18% of Bangkok Airways' total passengers.

The proportion of foreign passengers this year should increase to 50% from 25% at present, prompting the airline to add 13 routes in the second half which mostly consist of services that were active prior to the pandemic, such as Bangkok to the Maldives, Siem Reap and Danang, and from Samui to Hong Kong.

However, as the recovery path just started to gather pace, total revenue this year may only reach 30% of that recorded in 2019, before jumping to 80% in 2023 and matching the level recorded in 2019 in 2024.

Mr Puttipong said in the second or third quarter the firm is expected to receive approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission to set up BA Airport Leasehold Real Estate Investment Trust (BAREIT), based on Samui airport, which has a listed appraisal value of around 14 billion baht for a 25-year contract.

Funds raised from BAREIT will be used for debt repayment of 5 billion baht with banks resulting from expenditures during the pandemic, with the remainder reserved for further investment, he said.

Mr Puttipong said this year the company will maintain the number of aircraft in its fleet at 30, which was cut from 40 in 2019. The remainder would surely be sufficient for future operations as the airline flies just 20 aircraft at present, he said.

The airline currently serves 11 domestic and two international routes.

The new routes in the second half for domestic services would be Bangkok to Hat Yai which could complement its existing route connecting Hat Yai with Phuket.

During the first quarter, the airline carried 370,000 passengers from a total of 5,037 flights, up 146% year-on-year, which generated 931 million baht, an increase of 208%.

In 2022, the airline aims to operate 34,000 flights with 2.64 million passengers, contributing 8.17 billion baht, while the average load factor should reach 73% with an average airfare of 3,100 baht.

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