Thai AirAsia projects 20% growth this year

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BANGKOK, Feb 4 – Thai AirAsia, Thailand’s largest low-cost air carrier, predicted a 20 per cent business growth with 10 million passengers using its service, or an 82 per cent occupancy per flight this year, a senior executive said today.

Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive officer, forecast an overall aviation business growth of 12-15 per cent for Thailand this year thanks to uninterrupted tourism expansion in the region and the increasing trend of tourists heading for Indochina.

Thailand has been rated one of the top destinations in the region, he said, adding that the ASEAN Economic Community, scheduled to be launched in 2015, will facilitate inter-country tourism in Indochina.

The longer winter in Europe and Asian countries like Japan and Korea is a tourism boon for tropical countries in the region, he said.

Mr Tassapon said AirAsia will enhance its fleet of 34 aircraft with seven new energy-saving Airbus 380s in the near future.

Thai AirAsia will increase the number of flights on domestic routes to Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai and open several new regional routes to two Chinese cities, one Indochina city and Bhutan.

Asked if the projected high-speed train services in the region will affect the low-cost airline business, Mr Tassapon said 80 per cent of travel fees for high-speed trains worldwide is higher than those charged by low-cost airlines due to high infrastructure investment costs for rail projects.

In Bangkok, both international airports – Don Meaung and Suvarnabhumi – are not far from the city centre, and that is convenient for travellers, he said.