As airlines stretch their wings as part of their post-COVID strategy, they’re not just resuming previously suspended routes but are also in a position to launch new ones. One such example is budget carrier Thai AirAsia, which is ready to grab a slice of the lucrative Japanese market by launching flights in October.
First flight to Japan
Thai AirAsia is ready to add new destinations to its network, and Japan seems to be right on top of the list. The airline will soon connect Thailand’s capital city Bangkok with Fukuoka, the largest city on the island of Kyushu.
The low-cost carrier will operate a thrice-weekly schedule between Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) and Fukuoka (FUK) from October 12th on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays using its Airbus A321neo aircraft, which offers 236-seats.
Thai AirAsia CEO Santisuk Klongchaiya commented,
“Japan is a top leisure favorite destination for Thai travelers, with many intent on visiting the country as soon as it reopens to tourism. Acknowledging this opportunity, (Thai) AirAsia decided to introduce Fukuoka as its first destination in Japan.”
Thai AirAsia will soon fly to Fukuoka in Japan. Photo: Gcmap.com
The airline faces competition from Thai VietJet, which offers four weekly flights between the two cities. According to Routes online, Thai Airways International also intends to resume daily BKK-FUK flights in mid-October, having suspended the route in March 2020.
Thailand-Japan flights see a resurgence
With Japan and Thailand easing travel restrictions, airlines are jumping at the opportunity to resume flights on the sector. Thai AirAsia X will also resume flights between Bangkok and Sapporo in September and Osaka Kansai in October. It has already been flying to Tokyo Narita since July .
Thai AirAsia X has also resumed flights to Tokyo Narita. Photo: Airbus
Airline Weekly reports that Thai Airways will also return to Fukuoka in October and Sapporo in December. In the fourth quarter of this year, airlines are expected to fly nearly half of their 2019 Thailand-Japan capacity, the highest since the pandemic started.
Japanese carriers are also looking to benefit from point-to-point travelers and those looking to travel to North America with a layover in Japan. Both All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines are planning to capitalize on the massive demand for flight connections between North America and Southeast Asia.
Thai AirAsia carried 1.68 million passengers, an increase of 133% from 721,000 in 2021. More international routes were reinstated, and by the end of 2Q, the airline was operating 19 routes to eight countries. Capacity rose from 1.18 million seats to 2.24 million, load factor from 61% to 75%, and the number of flights by 87% to 12,326.
Thai AirAsia has increased its capacity and load factor in the past few months. Photo: Airbus
In July, the airline also announced flights to Hong Kong and Guangzhou, hoping to attract more customers from these lucrative markets. It conducted a pilot round-trip flight between Bangkok and Guangzhou to demonstrate its readiness to serve routes to and from China as soon as the republic’s government announces the country’s official reopening.
AirAsia Thailand is confident that once foreign travel restrictions into China are further eased, the airline will be ready to return to full service between the two countries.
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Sources: Airline Weekly, Routes online