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More services for Thai AirAsia X to Japan

Thai AirAsia X, the long-haul low cost subsidiary of Thai AirAsia is adding a range of services to its flights to Japan in a bid to stimulate traffic.

BANGKOK – Air competition from Thailand to both Korea and Japan intensified in recent months. Next to traditional carriers, low cost airlines are now competing for a piece of the pie and “one of the way to win customers from others is to offer more services and more convenience”, said Thai AirAsia X (TAAX) CEO Nadda Buranasiri. Among ways to lure travellers to favour TAAX over the competition is to enhance food experience on board – an asset which will particularly please Thai consumers- and to propose one-stop services for attractions and public transport once in Japan. Called “X-tra Onboard” services, the initiative comes from a partnership with Japan-based Quality Express, Keisei Electric Railway, Kansai Airport Transportation Enterprise and Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in order to offer bus, train and attraction tickets in Japan for purchase onboard. Among the offer are high speed train links from Narita to Tokyo, express bus services and the 7-day JR rail pass.
Passengers travelling to Japan will now be able to conveniently connect from the airport to downtown Tokyo and Osaka while enjoying popular tourist attractions such as Universal Studios Japan or the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.Some of the prices offered include discount. But this is really more about convenience with this one-stop service exclusively available for Thai AirAsia X passengers”, added Mr. Buranasiri. Another added service is the possibility given to passengers to pre-order up to 24 meals online, including Japanese menu sets. 
“X-tra Onboard” services will be available from December 1st, 2014. “If it proves successful we will extend it to new services. We also started to talk to partner in Korea to look at one-stop services for Seoul and its surroundings”, told TAAX CEO.
The carrier is due to take delivery of two new Airbus A330 in 2015 which will help boosting capacities. The first aircraft will be delivered in March and will be used to boost to two daily flights the frequencies between Bangkok and Tokyo Narita and to offer a daily flight to Kansai airport. “We are so far satisfied with our first results. We expect that we will carry until the end of the year 200,000 passengers on our three routes to Narita, Kansai and Seoul Incheon with a load factor fluctuating between 82% and 85%”, said Nadda Buranasiri. 
The second aircraft due to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2015 will help opening new destinations. The one with the most potential is Sapporo in Hokkaido while TAAX studies potential destinations in China PRC and eventually in India. “However, we will always look at ways to generate traffic in both directions. In the case of India, it is stil more difficult to fill up seats out of Thailand”, analysed Nadda Buranasiri. A good benchmark is indeed the current ratio on TAAX flights to Japan. Some 55% of the passengers are Thai and the rest Japanese and foreigners. 
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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.