THAI launching low-cost airline next year


BANGKOK, May 20 – Thailand’s national flag carrier Thai Airways International (THAI) will launch its own low-cost airline in April next year, according to THAI board of director’s chairman Ampon Kittiampon.

The chairman make the announcement after a board meeting had agreed to set up the new business unit.

THAI’s board of directors has the authority to approve the process directly without proposing its plan to the Transport Ministry or to the Cabinet for approval, according to the company’s legal team.

Managed according to the earlier announced strategy plan for 2011-2017, the new business unit aims to reclaim market share of passengers opting for other low-cost airlines and to support additional market expansion in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) so-called Single Aviation Market in the future.

The new airline has not yet been given a name. “Thai Silk”, “Thai Wings” and “Thai Fly” were initially offered for selection by the public and THAI staff.

The payback or break even point is considered to be in 2-3 years, Mr Ampon said, with 70-80 per cent of passenger capacity per flight expected with the new airline.

Flights of no more than three hours will be operated for domestic and international routes. Seven aircraft will be used at the initial phase. Five of them are Boeing 737, which THAI already owns, while another two will  have a150-seat capacity rented through a bidding process. The new airline will have 11 aircraft within three years.

This business unit will be 100-per cent owned by THAI and operated as a full airline. Customers using the service will receive benefits such as luggage allowances and mileage credit accumulation as when they fly with THAI.

The new airline will focus on the speed of its service by offering a high frequency of flight schedules and a ticket issuance online.

Retired THAI pilots no more than 65 years old will be considered for employment as captains, while flight attendants will be outsourced.

Mr Ampon added that the board, meanwhile, approved the extension period of THAI and Singapore’s Tiger Airways contract for another three months. If by then Thai Tiger Aiways, earlier planned to be operated by both airlines, cannot yet be set up, Thai Airways International will cancel its joint venture with the Singaporean counterpart. (MCOT online news)