Thai Lion's latest routes play on China

Thai Lion's latest routes play on China

Thai Lion Air's B737s dock at Bangkok's Don Mueang airport. BOONSONG KOSITCHOTETHANA
Thai Lion Air's B737s dock at Bangkok's Don Mueang airport. BOONSONG KOSITCHOTETHANA

Thai Lion Air (TLA) will establish new flight connections between northern Thailand and China in a bid to capture rising inbound Chinese traffic.

The airline is to launch a new route linking Chiang Mai to the southern Chinese province of Guangzhou on July 16.

The North's growing popularity as a top destination among Chinese tourists has driven TLA's decision to create a direct flight connection, TLA chief executive Aswin Yangkirativorn told the Bangkok Post.

Chinese travel agents also played a key role by advising the airline to start the service and these operators have already claimed half of the available seats to confirm the viability of the route, he added.

Five airlines already fly the same route including Thai Airways International, China Southern, China Airlines, China Eastern and Xiamen.

TLA, a fast-growing low-cost carrier, will offer four weekly flights between the two cities using Boeing 737 single-aisle jets. Moreover, TLA plans to launch its second route out of the Thai northern region, from Chiang Rai, with four weekly services later this year, it said.

The new route represents TLA's first international service outside of its main hub at Bangkok's Don Mueang airport as it seeks to capitalise on surging demand for flights to and from China.

TLA flies to five Chinese cities from Don Mueang. They are Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Nanchang and Nanjing.

It is also firming up its plan to stage regular flights from the Navy-operated U-tapao airport in Rayong to China and these should commence from the fourth quarter, Mr Aswin said.

The arrival of two new B737s to buttress TLA fleet's of 26 aircraft will help accommodate the new routes, the company said.

TLA appears to be chasing arch-rival Thai AirAsia (TAA), Thailand's biggest LCC, for emerging business out of U-tapao.

TAA pioneered low-cost flights out of U-tapao, with sister carrier Malaysia AirAsia making its debut in July 2015 with non-stop services from Kuala Lumpur.

To help launch the service, TLA said it will offer a one-way introductory fare, inclusive of all fees, starting at 2,395 baht for the Chiang Mai-Guangzhou flights.

The fare includes a free baggage allowance of 20kg, a sports equipment allowance of 15kg and seat selection.

Do you like the content of this article?