REPORT–BRUNEI–ATF 2010: The aviation sector is regaining strength with low-cost carriers (LCC) playing an especially significant role in boosting travel between ASEAN countries and Thailand, especially to destinations in southern Thailand.
According to the Airports of Thailand (AoT), low-cost carrier aircraft movements at all international airports in Thailand totalled 68,727 (January-September 2009). Total LCC passenger traffic at all the international airports in Thailand for international and domestic traffic totalled 7.95 million (during January to September 2009).
The number of LCC aircraft movements at Hat Yai International Airport totalled 4,728 and passenger movements totalled 595,540. At Phuket International Airport, the number of LCC aircraft movements totalled 9,674 and 1,122,693 for passenger movements.
No comparison figures over previous periods are available, as this is the first time such figures on LCC movements at Thailand’s international airports have been compiled.
Recent announcements by a number of airlines indicate that cities in South Thailand are beginning to see the return of international flights across all categories of airlines – scheduled, low-cost and charter.
As of 25 October, 2009, Tiger Airways began flying from Singapore to Krabi 4 flights a week on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, using Airbus A320 with capacity of 180 seats.
As of 3 November, 2009, Tiger Airways also launched thrice weekly frequencies on the Singapore – Hat Yai – Singapore sector, using Airbus A320-200 with capacity of 180 seats.
As of 26 October, 2009, Happy Air, a new regional Thai carrier based in Phuket, began flying from Phuket to Hat Yai. On 1 November, 2009, it began a daily flight on the Hat Yai-Langkawi and Phuket-Langkawi sectors.
Firefly, the low cost subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, launched its inaugural flight from Subang (Malaysia) to Phuket on 1 May 2009. Previously, the airline flew to Phuket via Penang four times weekly.
The airline has also announced a plan to serve Hat Yai out of Subang Airport in Kuala Lumpur. Hat Yai is now looking to get flights again from Kuala Lumpur as Malaysia remains its main market. Malaysia and Singapore are Hat Yai’s main source of foreign visitors. Together, they represented 91 percent of all foreign tourists in commercial accommodation in Hat Yai in 2008.
On 3 December, 2009, Thai Air Asia launched a daily flight between Ho Chi Minh – Phuket, and Air Asia Indonesia began daily flights from Jakarta – Phuket, and Medan – Phuket, 4 flights per week. In addition, Jet Star Asia also operated 14 flights per week between Singapore and Phuket.