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Thai Air Travel

Thai airline industry: Traffic, passenger numbers are down


BANGKOK — Political clashes in Thailand are leaving their mark on the nation's travel industry, with Thai Airways International PCL and state-owned Airports of Thailand PCL saying Tuesday that passenger numbers have fallen.

In a prepared statement, Thai Airways said traffic on its Indian route has fallen 7% while the number of visitors from China, South Korea and Japan has also declined. The national carrier didn't specify a period for comparison.

The average cabin factor—a measure of seats filled—is about 70% currently, compared with 78.9% in March, Thai Airways said. The company earlier said its first-quarter cabin factor rose from a year earlier to an average of 81%.

To entice more customers to fly with the airline, Thai Airways plans to offer special ticket deals during May and June. The airline is also considering a plan to temporarily reduce the frequency of some routes where passenger numbers have declined, President Piyasvasti Amranand said in the statement.

Airports of Thailand said passenger traffic through its six local airports has been hurt by domestic political unrest and the shutdown of European airspace in April because of ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland. President Serirat Prasutanond said during an interview, however, that solid passenger-traffic growth during the company's fiscal first half ended in March will likely help Airports of Thailand achieve its traffic-growth target of 10% for the full fiscal year.

"Without any growth at all in the latter half, we should still be able to achieve the 10% growth target for this year," he said.

Airports of Thailand said its traffic rose 27% to 31.8 million passengers in the first six months of this fiscal year. A year earlier, traffic fell 14% to 50.1 million passengers amid the global economic slowdown and Thailand's political upheaval.

Despite the political tension, Mr. Serirat expects traffic at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport to rise to between 43 million and 44 million passengers this fiscal year, compared with 37 million last year. In the first half, Suvarnabhumi accommodated 23.6 million passengers.

Mr. Serirat declined to provide specific revenue or profit forecasts for Airports of Thailand, but said the robust first-half traffic results will make a full-year loss unlikely. "Unless things go really bad [politically] and cause traffic to fall by more than 25%, I don't see how we would end up with a loss this year," he said.

Thai airline industry: Traffic, passenger numbers are down
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