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Japanese travel agency creates an airline to serve Thailand

Anticipating further strong demand from Japan into Thailand, H.I.S. Co, a major Japanese travel agency, plans to launch a charter carrier dedicated to Japanese travellers looking for a Thai holiday.

TOKYO- H.I.S. Co, one of Japan’s major travel agencies, is looking to create a new charter carrier based in Thailand to serve the growing market of Japanese travellers choosing to spend their holiday in Thailand. The Japanese travel company is due to make an announcement about the creation of Asia Pacific Airlines (APA) which would start to fly from the middle of 2013.

The airline will support the company’s strategic growth in this part of the world, a company source in Bangkok said yesterday. APA will be 49% owned by H.I.S.; 39% by its Thai unit H.I.S.

Tours Co, which is majority Thai owned; and 12% by Panlert Baiyoke, the owner of Bangkok’s Baiyoke Group of Hotels, a business partner of H.I.S.

The airline plans to take to the skies in July with two second-hand Boeing B767. According to information from the Bangkok Post, the fleet could eventually reach 10 aircraft. The carrier expects to start flying first between Tokyo Narita and Bangkok. Additional destinations would come in the longer term and they would not necessarily been all in Thailand. APA seems to have interests to serve also Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, Okinawa but also some domestic routes such as Tokyo-Fukuoka and Tokyo-Osaka. The airline expects that its flights will be filled up to  80% by Japanese travellers while the remaining 20% would essentially be filled up by Thai visitors.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand said Japanese arrivals in Thailand totalled 1.12 million in 2011, contributing to generate revenues of THB 37.7 billion (US$ 1.2 billion).

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.