Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Thai-Korean airline ready to take off

Crystal Thai Airlines (CTA), a new startup commercial carrier with an ambition to become Thailand's third-largest airline, is getting ready to take to the skies early next month.
CTA, a 51:49 Thai-South Korean joint venture with 201 million baht in registered capital, is due to launch its maiden flights from Bangkok to Incheon and Muan, both in South Korea, on Feb 3, with two flights per week each.
The airline is led by Thai logistics businesswoman Manika Sawasdipan and has leased one Airbus A320, with 174 seats, said vice-president Pittipol Vannarot.
The airline is also acquiring a larger Airbus with a longer range - the A330-200 - through a lease in March to support expanding services. A second A320 is expected join the fleet by the end of this year, said Mr Pittipol.
Aside from South Korea, other destinations on its radar screen are Mumbai and Cochin in India, Clark (the Philippines), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Thimpu (Bhutan), Dubai and Phuket.
While the first A320 will be used to start services from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Incheon and Muan started, CTA intends to use the larger A330 for Incheon-Phuket services in March.
The A320, which has been in service for 19 years, would then be switched to a Bangkok-Colombo route with onward service to Dubai, he said.
The carrier, using the slogan "Wing of Asia", promises to offer low fares with premium service, meaning that meals will be served. Leisure travellers will form the bulk of CTA's passenger base.
Mr Pittipol said CTA's South Korean partners, whose names were not disclosed, had strong connections with travel agencies in South Korea and could ensure sufficient passenger loads.
CTA, which obtained its air operation certificate from the Department of Civil Aviation last year, has 14 cockpit staff and 25 cabin crew - all Thais - to support the launch of its services.

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