24 June 2009
BANGKOK-- Thai AirAsia, a subsidiary of Malaysia's AirAsia low-cost carrier, is confident of achieving its target of 5.2 million passengers this year, despite several hicups, including political instability, Influenza A(H1N1) and global economic recession.
Its chief executive officer, Tassapon Bijleveld, said the strong showing in the first quarter of the year -- where the company posted a 15 to 20 per cent growth as compared to the corresponding period last year -- had boosted their confidence.
"This growth was achieved, despite the Songkran riot (anti-government protests).
"But the market is weak currently, and we are doing our best to stimulate the market with such initiatives," he said, after announcing its parent company's move to waive the administration fee for passengers booking tickets with the airlines.
Tassapon is hopeful that waiving the administration fee (100 baht in Thailand) would boost ticket sales as passengers just needed to pay for ticket fare and airport tax, which is 50 or 100 baht for domestic routes and 700 baht for international flights departing from the Kingdom.
Last year, the airline carried 4.2 million passengers.
Tassapon said the Influenza A(H1N1) scare was affecting the market as the number of passengers had dropped. To date, the Thai Public Health Ministry has confirmed 985 such cases in the country.
"We hope to see signs of recovery within 60 days as people are cautious now because of the flu. But the key to travelling in Thailand is political stability and fortunately it's good now," he said.
Tassapon said the Phuket and Bali sectors were among the best routes served by the airline, adding that plans to make the island the second Thai hub after Bangkok, was expected to materialise by the fourth quarter of the year.
On its expansion plan, Tassapon said they were finalising plans to open several destinations in India and more cities in China, year end.
"We are aiming to tackle China and India as they are big markets. We intend to do that once we receive more Airbus planes by the end of the year," he said, adding that it currently had nine Airbus and six Boeings.