No-frills carriers take a bigger slice
LCC passenger volume jumps 20% in first half
Low-cost carriers (LCCs) have steadily boosted their presence in the country as more and more flyers embrace budget air travel and shy away from full-service airlines.
A total of 26.79 million people took to the skies on board no-frills carriers from Thailand's six major airports in the first half of the year, representing 43.9% of the overall passenger count of 61.07 million.
The share of LCC passenger traffic for the January-June period was higher than the corresponding period last year.
In 2015, LCC passenger traffic accounted for nearly 42% of the total, numbering 46.12 million out of the total 109.81 million registered for the year.
LCC passenger traffic through the airports operated by Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) in the first half of this year jumped 20.7%.
In tandem with the LCC passenger volume was the increase in LCC aircraft movements in the first half, at 11.3% to 170,459, which represented 43.7% of the entire movement count of 389,740.
LCC passenger traffic and its share of the total national count would be larger if the volume at 28 small facilities operated by the Airports Department, such as Udon Thani and Khon Kaen, were included.
The department did not release figures of LCC air traffic passing through its facilities.
Industry analysts said LCC traffic through AoT-run airports for the whole of 2016 is likely to match last year's growth of 30% with soaring demand in the last quarter of the year, the peak travel period, pushing up the volume.
The bulk of LCC traffic via AoT-run airports was through Bangkok's Don Mueang airport, which is billed as the largest and busiest LCC air hub in Asia.
Don Mueang handled 16.07 million LCC passengers in the first half of 2016, representing nearly 60% of the entire LCC passenger traffic.
The second largest LCC passenger traffic handler in the same period was Phuket with 3.07 million, followed by Chiang Mai with 2.88 million, and Suvarnabhumi with 2.41 million.
Driven by the proliferation of the LCC passenger market, Don Mueang showed dramatic growth in total passenger volume, rising from 3.42 million in 2011 to 30.30 million 2015 -- a jump of 785%, or average annual growth of 80.4%.
There were 31 LCCs operating on international routes through the six AoT-run airports and six on domestic services for the fiscal year to September 2015.
The top-four LCCs operating through Don Mueang in the fiscal year were Thai AirAsia (41.3% of traffic), Nok Air (29%), Thai Lion Air (13.5%) and THAI Smile Airways (2.6%), according to AoT.