AirAsia X selection of Bangkok as second base increases pressure on Thai Airways
AirAsia X is close to finalising plans for establishing an affiliate in Thailand, a fast-growing market with favourable conditions for long-haul low-cost operations. The new joint venture project between AirAsia X and Thai partners, which will almost certainly include sister short-haul carrier Thai AirAsia, will put further pressure on the Thai Airways Group.
Thai Airways has already been struggling to fend off increasing LCC competition in the domestic and regional international market, which it has responded to by increasing its involvement in short-haul LCC affiliate Nok Air and launching new hybrid carrier Thai Smile. AirAsia X will bring new LCC competition to some of Thai’s strongest medium-haul markets, particularly Australia, Korea and Japan.
Thai Airways has been studying potential long-haul low-cost options and the launch of an AirAsia X affiliate in Thailand, which will likely commence services within the next year, adds urgency. Thai Airways has already been slightly impacted by Asia’s two other long-haul LCCs, Jetstar and Scoot, but having to compete with a local long-haul LCC represents a much bigger challenge.
AirAsia X has only had one base – Kuala Lumpur – since launching services in 2007. Additional bases were always envisioned with Bali and Bangkok initially considered the most likely alternatives as AirAsia X could leverage its relationship with Indonesia AirAsia and Thai AirAsia. Tokyo and Manila also have become considerations for AirAsia X following the launch of Japan AirAsia and AirAsia Philippines in 2012.