Thai AirAsia to add more jets, routes
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Thai AirAsia to add more jets, routes

Thai AirAsia (TAA) aims to maintain its growth momentum next year with the addition of five jets and an expanded route footprint.

Thailand's largest low-cost carrier will have up to 50 Airbus 320s in 2016, transporting 16.5 million passengers and introducing new routes to India, Laos and Vietnam.

Outlining the strategy for the year ahead, TAA chief executive officer Tassapon Bijleveld said a few Indian cities such as Kolkata and Hyderabad were on the airline's radar screen.

Tassapon: Indian cities on radar screen

One or two cities in Laos could be served by TAA from its Don Mueang airport base as the landlocked nation opens its restrictive air space to airlines from neighbouring countries under the Asean Economic Community (AEC) next year.

Next year will see TAA adding Danang, a major port city in central Vietnam, as the third destination after Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as the airline gears up for greater traffic expected to be spurred by the implementation of the AEC.

While new routes will focus on India, Laos and Vietnam, the airline will only seek to raise frequencies on the existing network, which is relatively extensive, Mr Tassapon said.

But issues related to India-Thailand air traffic rights, now fully utilised, complicate TAA's plan to spread its wings to India, he said.

On Sept 1, TAA began a regular service from Bangkok to Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore.

Bengaluru is the second Indian city currently served by TAA, after Chennai flights began in July 2012.

Its Bangkok-Kolkata and Bangkok-Delhi routes, which were introduced in December 2010, were suspended in March 2012 and March 2014, respectively, due to poor traffic and intense competition.

For Myanmar, Mr Tassapon insisted the airline will not resume services to Nay Pyi Taw, which he said offers poor traffic potential, unlike Yangon and Mandalay.

It is keen to serve the ancient city of Bagan, but only after the authorities resolve the absence of ground handling services at Bagan airport.

On the domestic front, TAA is interested in serving Mae Sot and Betong once their airports are up and running.

However, a new route connecting Udon Thani with Krabi could be launched as early as the second half of next year.

The airline would also link Krabi with Macau, in addition to the existing connections with Guangzhou and Singapore.

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