BANGKOK/JAKARTA (eTN) – The coming winter season for Asia’s largest low-cost carrier, AirAsia, will see a major boost in flights between Indonesia and Thailand, reflecting the growing interest for both countries to visit each other. Less than three years ago, the only destinations served by any air carriers flying both countries were from Bangkok to Bali (Thai Airways) and Jakarta (Thai Airways, Garuda, and AirAsia). However, things have changed dramatically with all carriers boosting capacities between both countries.
Garuda is now back in Bangkok with a midday daily flight to Jakarta offering easy connections to Indonesia’s major tourist destinations such as Bali, Yogyakarta, Solo, or Surabaya. “We still consider adding more frequencies to Thailand. We, of course, consider a route such as Bali-Bangkok, but we still need to be sure that it will not be a one-way market only,” said Bambang Sunan, general manager, Garuda, for Thailand and Indochina.
Thai Airways just boosted the total number of frequencies from Bangkok to Jakarta and Bali during the summer, offering, respectively, 10 and 11 weekly frequencies. Since 2007, AirAsia has opened flights from Bangkok to Jakarta and Bali, as well as from Phuket to Jakarta and Medan. “We have experienced a strong growth of the Thai market over the last three years, from 68,000 in 2007 to 109,000 last year, up by 60 percent during this period. And we continue to record a growth in Thai tourist arrivals due to those added air capacities,” explained Esty Reko, director of marketing promotions at the Ministry of Tourism, Directorate General for Tourism, to eTurboNews.
Not all the flights have been successful. Phuket-Medan has already been suspended due to poor load factors and yield, less than six months after the first flight took off. But AirAsia is pioneering new routes from this winter. The Indonesian subsidiary from the carrier opens four weekly frequencies between Bangkok and Surabaya from November 8, finally providing Indonesia’s second largest city with easier connections to Europe, India, and the Middle East via Bangkok. The route Medan-Bangkok appears also in the city-pairs on AirAsia booking engine. However, no official launching date has been so far given at the website, while Indonesia AirAsia does not make any comment on this route. Thai AirAsia launches a new Phuket to Bali flight this winter served by four weekly frequencies. With Phuket becoming more and more an alternative international gateway to Bangkok, the timing might be right to link two of Asia’s top resort destinations.