Threefold increase in Thai AirAsia's bookings to China
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Threefold increase in Thai AirAsia's bookings to China

Passenger congestion at Suvarnabhumi airport, Samut Prakan. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
Passenger congestion at Suvarnabhumi airport, Samut Prakan. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Following the implementation of the permanent visa-free scheme between Thailand and China, Thai AirAsia has reported that bookings from Thailand to destinations in mainland China have experienced a threefold increase.

The company expects Thai passengers to account for a 20% share of all passengers travelling on Chinese routes this year.

Tansita Akrarittipirom, director of commercial operations at Thai AirAsia, said the number of Thai passengers recorded on all the airline's routes between Thailand and China prior to the coronavirus pandemic stood at just 10% of all passengers, with 90% of the passengers being Chinese.

She said so far this month the number of outbound passengers has increased threefold from January to 18,000.

Due to the popularity of Thai tourism among Chinese people, the inbound market would continue to dominate the airline's routes between Thailand and China, thanks to China's vast population, said Ms Tansita.

This year, the airline expects to carry 1.3 million Chinese passengers, or around 15% of 8 million Chinese tourists that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has forecast to visit Thailand this year.

As of March 25, about 231,000 Chinese passengers had used Thai AirAsia's services from China, with a peak of 98,000 passengers recorded in February, attributed to the Chinese New Year holiday.

During the first quarter, the airline expected to secure a 94% load factor on these routes.

Thai AirAsia carried over 600,000 passengers from China in 2023, or around 18% of 3.5 million Chinese tourists who travelled to Thailand.

At present, the airline operates 101 flights per week between Thailand and 11 destinations in China.

Ms Tansita said even though more Chinese airlines are expanding on the same routes, the airline is unfazed by the competition and will continue to maintain an appropriate level of flight capacity and schedules.

It will also add more daily flights connecting the countries' capital cities -- Bangkok and Beijing -- in July.

Given the government's pledge to establish an aviation hub, and develop new airports in many provinces, the airline is eager to support this policy, said Ms Tansita.

However, various factors should be taken into account, including the size and capacity of each airport, to see how well they can accommodate specific type of aircraft that most airlines are now using.

Other important factors are the potential for tourism and tourism demand in these provinces.

She said provincial routes previously dominated by local people had started to see more tourists hailing from other parts of the country, such as Udon Thani and Trang.

Thai AirAsia has the highest share of domestic market routes, with a 38% market share. The company plans to issue a bond worth 1.5 billion baht in May.

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