Thai AirAsia talks expansion

Thai AirAsia talks expansion

There appears to be no finishing line for Thai AirAsia as plans expansion in China.

Thai AirAsia is planning to new services to Hangzhou, China, this December and may fly to India next year.

Thai AirAsia CEO, Tassapon Bijleveld, confirmed, last week, the airline had filed an application to fly to Hangzhou, to tap airport incentives for the airline that operate direct flight from Bangkok.

He said a service to Hangzhou had strong potential for two-way traffic, due a steady economic growth in the city and province, and a demand in the Thai outbound travel market.

Mr Tassapon made the comments during the Retrieving Thai Tourism Industry - The National Agenda seminar, held at the Swissotel Le Concorde, Bangkok.

In addition, Mr Tassapon said, he has also scheduled a meeting with Chendu authorities next month, to discuss the possibility for AirAsia to operate the service to Chendu in China's Sichuan province.

Mr Tassapon affirmed that Thai AirAsia would continue to open new markets, and by next year, the airline was planning a service to India.

Low-cost airlines appear to have increased market share during the current economic crisis. Booking trends show web related bookings have expanded 35% in the first quarter of 2009. In contrast, traditional distribution channel bookings, mainly on full-service airlines booked through travel agencies declined 15%, according to Amadeus Asia Pacific's evaluations.

The increase in web bookings could be attributed to a shift to low-cost airlines, as travellers cut their budgets.

Besides the expansion of its network, the airline will continue its sponsorship of different events that could boost awareness such as football and music fan clubs.

"We've gained awareness from our sponsorship in the English Premier League, and will support Formula 1, and possibly a major baseball league in Japan or the Super Bowl in the US."

Air Asia is a big supporter of the English champions Manchester United.

On distribution, Mr Tassapon claims over 80% of the airline's bookings are now through the internet.  He gave no details of where the remaining 20% of the bookings were sourced.