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Orient Thai pilots low-cost airline

Orient Thai Airlines is to enter the fray of companies providing no-frills services by…

Orient Thai Airlines is to enter the fray of companies providing no-frills services by launching a Bangkok-Chiang Mai route with a promotional fare of Bt999 until the end of the year, the airline`s director announced today.

Speaking after unveiling the airline`s new 233-seater 757-200 plane to be used on its low-cost route between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Mr. Udom Tantiprasongchai said that the airline would offer all seats for Bt999 until the end of 2003, when the price would increase to Bt1,400.

The new route will initially see 16 return flights a day, with hourly flights scheduled for the future.

Mr. Udom said that the airline would now press forward with the launch of low-cost services to other major provinces and tourist destinations, with an average of two routes launched each month. New routes would include services between Bangkok and Phuket, Bangkok and Hat Yai, and Bangkok and Udon Thani, he said.

However, he conceded that the airline would be up against intense competition from other low-cost airlines launched next year, with a huge number of domestic and foreign airlines unveiling similar services.

In the initial phase of operation, Orient Thai hoped to snatch a market share of 5-10 percent, with at least 60 flights operating on 13 routes by next year, he said.

But despite his fears of competition, Bangkok Airways confirmed today that it would not be launching no-frills services in the near future. Senior airline director ML Nanthika Worawan said that the airline would continue to emphasize its role as a quality airline offering quality services, and its target group of customers would remain tourists who wanted a relaxing experience in the skies.

Instead the airline would focus on opening up new international routes between important tourism destinations, particularly in China, with around 4-5 new routes to China launched in the near future.

ML Nanthika expressed confidence that these strategies would lead to a 20 percent increase in passenger numbers next year, while also revealing that the airline was in the process of purchasing new aircraft for its medium-haul fleet.

Mrs. Juthamas Siriwann, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), voiced optimism that the launch of low-cost airlines would lead to a rise in the number of people using domestic airline services, noting that at present many foreign tourists were forced to stay in Bangkok without visiting the provinces due to the limited number of available flights.

This meant that the new low-cost airlines were likely to boost overall passenger numbers rather than snatch passengers away from Thai Airways, she said.

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.