"Thai Tiger Airways would be a big success," exclaimed Declan Ryan, principal of RyanAsia, Singapore, at Thai Airways International conference.
He based the optimism on the strong growth story of Ryanair, Europe's biggest low-cost airline.
Ryanair took six years to earn profits. In 1995, it carried 2 million passengers, and went public in 1997. In 2010 fiscal year, ending March 2010,it operated on 1,100 routes from 42 bases across Europe. It showed 3 billion euro in revenue, 319 million euro in profit, with over 2.8 billion euro in cash. It expects 73 million passengers in 2011 fiscal year.
Tiger Airways, the joint venture of Ryanair and Asian partners like Singapore Airlines, in 2010 fiscal year showed net profit of US$35 million.
"This is a huge target market with population of 3 billion, many of whom have never flown together with low low-cost airline penetration," he said.
Tiger Airways currently operates flights to 38 destinations in 12 countries & Territories including Singapore, Australia, India & China. It expects to carry 7 million passengers in the 2011 fiscal year.
Ryan believed that the future growth prospect of low-cost airlines in Asia is huge, given the 3.7 billion population. This will also benefit Thai Tiger Airways, a joint venture Tiger Airways and THAI, as 3.3 billion of population in Asia live within 4 hours flying time of Thailand.
He also noted that low-cost airline penetration in Asia Pacific is still relatively low at 15.5 per cent. This compares to global average of 21.7 per cent.
To him, Thailand is a critical player in Asian aviation. While THAI will be a leader, Thai Tiger will be a leader in the low-cost segment, and more and more Thai people will fly with low-cost airlines.