27 May 2010
AirAsia is giving away 10,000 free airline seats, costing at least 10 million baht, to help resuscitate the Thai tourism industry battered by political turmoil.
The give-away is the first of a series of aggressive campaigns the no-frills carrier intends to stage over the next two months to woo back international tourists.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will subsidise the tickets in exchange for a firm commitment from the airline to bring in a set number of tourists.
Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive of Thai AirAsia, said the need was two or three times greater than for a similar scheme that the airline and the TAT used two years ago after yellow-shirt protesters closed Bangkok's two airports in late 2008.
In that case, the TAT extended 30 million baht to the airline to cover advertising and subsidising the air tickets.
He suggested that subsidising air tickets would be considered on the case-by-case basis if carriers commit to bringing in a certain number of travellers.
The 10,000 free AirAsia seats, which exclude fees such as airport taxes, are for non-Thais only and available for booking on the airline's website from tomorrow, and good for travel between June and August.