Thai AirAsia to penetrate Chinese market

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BANGKOK, Sept 26 — Thai AirAsia, Thailand’s largest low-cost air carrier, plans to penetrate the Chinese market, aiming to attract more tourists from that country to fly via the airline to visit Thailand, Thai AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Tassapon Bijleveld said here Wednesday.

Mr Tassapon said that Thai AirAsia will focus more on Chinese market because China has enjoyed strong economic growth and growing numbers of Chinese want to travel overseas.

Thailand is a favourite destination, particularly Ma Boon Krong (MBK) Shopping Center, Chatuchak Weekend Market and Pattaya.

He said that so far 1.2 million Chinese tourists have visited Thailand this year and it is expected that by yearend, the numbers will hit 1.6 million visitors.

More than one in three — 36 per cent — of all Thai AirAsia overall passengers are Chinese nationals, he said.

Thai AirAsia has targeted to draw more Chinese to Thailand, aiming to overtake ASEAN tourists as Thailand’s top tourists during the next 3-4 years, said Mr Tassapon.

He said Thai AirAsia has planned to open new routes to three to four major cities in China annually.

The latest service added was Bangkok to Xi’an, a historical city in northwest China. He said the daily service to Xi’an will commence on November 16 following the launch of a daily service to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China on October 19.

As for the progress in moving the airline’s operations base from Suvarnabhumi to Don Mueang Airport, Mr Tassapon said the test run on the check-in system and baggage belt have gone smoothly.

He said the company will start moving equipment this Friday, when all Thai AirAsia’s 21 aircraft would also be moved to Don Mueang.