Thai AirAsia X optimistic after posting Q1 profit
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Thai AirAsia X optimistic after posting Q1 profit

Thai AirAsia X expects to post a profit from carrying nearly 1 million passengers this year, driven by its Japan routes, after returning to profit in the first quarter.

Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive of Thai AirAsia X, said the robust Japan routes helped drive the airline's performance, especially during the low season.

"There is no seasonality for Japan routes as we can maintain consistent bookings during the third quarter, which usually experience a sharp drop," said Mr Tassapon.

The airline's Japanese routes contribute the highest proportion of revenue at 50%, with a load factor of more than 90%. Other positive revenue earners include routes to South Korea and Australia, he said.

Japanese passengers typically account for 35-40% of total passengers, with 60-65% derived from the Thai market, in part thanks to the weak yen.

Although hotel prices in Japan rose recently, the stronger baht helped Thais reduce their overall budget by 20-30%, he said.

Thai AirAsia X will resume direct flights to Nagoya after halting the route during the pandemic. From August, the airline will fly four times per week from Suvarnabhumi airport, said Mr Tassapon.

The airline will have 36 flights per week to four Japanese cities, including Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo.

He said new route should help drive the total revenue by 15%.

In 2024, the airline targets 1 million passengers, or 90% of level recorded in 2019, with an average load factor of 85%.

Mr Tassapon said the airline had already secured its first quarterly operational profit post-pandemic in this year's first quarter of more than 1 billion baht.

The airline is expecting 1.5-2 billion baht earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation by the end of this year.

He said the airline plans to open 2-3 new routes within this year, including one serving another Japanese city.

Thai AirAsia X is studying destinations, including European cities, along with Melbourne, Australia, and Sendai and another northern city in Japan, said Mr Tassapon.

For operations planned for Kazakhstan, he said after an initial study, it was revealed that the market has strong demand for flights to Phuket, which may not be suitable for Thai AirAsia X's aircraft.

At present, the fleet comprises seven A330s, and four more are to be delivered. It expects to operate 15 aircraft by 2025.

Mr Tassapon said the airline will exit its rehabilitation plan by the end of this year, and will raise 1 billion baht from investors for expansion.

Mr Tassapon holds a 48.6% stake in Thai AirAsia X. AirAsia X Berhad has a 49% stake, while Thai investors hold around 2%.

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