Saturday, May 1, 2010

Politics spurs Thai AirAsia to cut flights

30 April 2010

Thai AirAsia, a budget carrier, will reduce flights on its Bangkok-Taipei and Bangkok-Guangzhou routes to reflect weakened demand largely caused by Thailand's political turmoil.

From tomorrow, the low-cost carrier will cut flights on the Taipei route from daily to four flights a week and Guangzhou to three flights a week from daily, said chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld.

Traffic from China and other North Asian states has continued to plunge as their respective governments have advised citizens against travelling to the kingdom as violent political protests show no signs of stopping.

These are the only two international routes Thai AirAsia plans to cut back.

The airline's overall load factor has remained ''okay'' at 70%, but the percentage may decline if the Thai political situation gets worse. The carrier said inbound traffic has suffered due to the political crisis.

Mr Tassapon indicated the political mayhem may influence the airline's plan to start daily services from Bangkok to New Delhi and Kolkata.

''We still need to find out how Indians are reacting to the Thai political situation. Maybe they don't care if they view the situation as less critical than what takes place in their own country,'' he said.

''There are still attractions in Bangkok like shopping bargains that may override concerns about political clashes.''

The airline still hopes to start its Indian flights in June as planned, he said.

Thai AirAsia is reducing frequencies on two domestic routes tomorrow due to the low season. The Bangkok-Chiang Mai route will be reduced to five flights a day from six now, and Bangkok-Krabi will drop to three flights from four at present.

Bangkok Post

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