Friday, July 4, 2008

3 Thai airlines cut routes to save costs

BANGKOK: -- Three low-cost airlines - Nok Air, One-Two-Go and Thai AirAsia - have cut and rescheduled flights in response to record-high jet fuel prices.

Effective yesterday, Nok Air cut three domestic routes - Bangkok-Chiang Rai, Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani and Bangkok-Krabi. It is also considering reducing its 21 flights a week to Phuket.

Affected travellers are being transferred to Thai Airways International and Thai AirAsia.

The domestic route changes followed the cancellation of its international Bangkok-Bangalore and Bangkok-Hanoi flights.

"We're losing money," an airline representative said, who declined to confirm if losses were as high as Bt1 billion as had been reported. The reports have fuelled expectations that the airline would be shut down soon.

Meanwhile, One-Two-Go has cut the number of Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Bangkok-Phuket flights from 28 per week to 21, starting yesterday. The flight frequency to Hat Yai has also been cut by half to seven, while those to Chiang Rai and Nakhon Si Thammarat are down from seven to two flights per week. The daily flight to Surat Thani is to continue.

Thai AirAsia has cancelled the weekly flight to Xiamen, China, due to lack of passengers.

Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive officer of Thai AirAsia, said operating costs had jumped from 30 per cent to 50 per cent due to spiking oil prices.

"However, we have no further plans to reduce or cut more flights," he said.

The airline planned to add more international routes from Bangkok to Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China, within the next two or three months. It is also studying scheduling flights to

Bali. The airline recently started flights to Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City.

Thai AirAsia has increased its flights to Phuket and Chiang Mai. The airline expected the number of passengers to reach 4.6 million this year, a 25-per-cent growth rate.

To survive the lower passenger traffic due to higher travelling costs, the airline has approached 15 corporate clients to encourage more business travel.

To boost loyalty, the airline has launched a programme paying up to Bt1,800 to compensate passengers whose flights are delayed more than three hours.

-- The Nation 2008-07-02

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