Newly launched Thai AirAsia X is now offering a fly-through service via Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok to lure long haul passengers heading to South Korea and Japan who previously made the transit via Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“Thai AirAsia’s passengers arriving in Bangkok can now connect to a Thai AirAsia X flight via the transfer desk, without needing to pass through immigration, collect bags, re-check in or have a transit visa,” chief executive officer of Thai AirAsia X Nadda Buranasiri said recently.
He said bags would be automatically checked through to the final destination. The service is available on selected short-haul Thai AirAsia and long-haul Thai AirAsia X services and the connection time is between 90 minutes and six hours.
Launched in April 22, Thai Air Asia X, an affiliate carrier of Thai AirAsia, became Thailand’s first low cost, long haul carrier. The airline will launch its first direct daily flights to Seoul in South Korea on June 17. It will also fly to Tokyo and Osaka Kansai around a month later and has its eyes set on China as a target destination in 2015.
“We expect around 30 percent of all passengers [from domestic destinations in Thailand and from neighboring countries] to connect to Japan and South Korea,” Buranasiri said.
Last year, Thai Air Asia carried over 10.5 million passengers, ending the year with a total fleet of 35 aircraft. Meanwhile, the Thai Immigration Bureau recorded that 594,251 Indonesians visited Thailand in 2013, an increase of 32.7 percent from the previous year.
Speaking during a media briefing in Bangkok, recently, Buranansiri said he was upbeat with the prospects of the two destinations because they had a visa exemption agreement with the Thai government.
Buranansiri, the former managing director of Warner Music Thailand, continued that South Korea and Japan were selected as the first destination in particular because young people in Thailand were fans of Japanese and Korean music, fashion and food.
He said during the remaining semester of this year alone, the airline targeted to serve some 200,000 passengers to the three destinations with a fleet of two Airbus A330-300 wide-body aircraft.
Head of commercial affairs at Thai AirAsia X Niruth Sripawatakul said he would seek cooperation with K-pop managements. Several days ago, his company offered 5,000 tickets, with prices starting from 1,990 Thai baht (US$61), as an attractive incentive for passengers.
“Our top premium seats will still be cheaper than the full service airlines. A one way ticket should be about 17,000 baht for a premium one way seat. Meanwhile, the highest fare for an economy seat should be about 11,000 to 12,000 baht,” he said.
Buranasiri said the two aircraft would be able to manage the three destinations and serve the targeted passengers.
He believed that the number of aircraft would give enough space for the employees to run the operation professionally and knowledgably, which would create a solid foundation for their business.
Even with the political turmoil in Bangkok, he was confident with the airline business, saying that Thai AirAsia had experienced ups and downs in the business for a decade.
“I would like to reiterate, even with the situation like this, we still think that it looks very promising. And to have two aircraft and to launch this month [April] is a good idea. If things go well we definitely will add to our fleet,” he said.