Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Thai Airways adds flight to Saigon Vietnam

THAI adds flight to Vietnam

BOONSONG KOSITCHOTETHANA

Thai Airways International (THAI) is adding one weekly flight to its Bangkok-Ho Chi Minh City (HCM) route on Oct 28 to further consolidate its position as the largest capacity provider on the fast-growing sector.

The national carrier would want to add even more flights on the route if the Vietnamese authorities permitted it, as it sees the growing air traffic being spurred by the fast-growing business and leisure travel in the southern Vietnamese city.

Hanoi allows THAI to add one flight a year to the HCM route and with the additional flight, on every Thursday evening, THAI would have used the maximum capacity as permitted, according to Nond Kalinta, general manager of THAI in Vietnam.

THAI currently operates 16 flights a week on the Bangkok-HCM route, with a combined weekly capacity of about 28,000 seats, more than those provided by other carriers on the route including Lufthansa, Air France and Air Viet Nam.

However, THAI's flights from Bangkok to Hanoi will remain unchanged in the new high season that begins at the end of October, at 14 a week, due to fiercer competition on the route from low-cost carrier, Thai AirAsia, and slower growth in traffic demand in Vietnam's capital than in the former Saigon, he said.

Budget airlines have yet to enter the Bangkok-HCM route, though Nok Airlines and Thai AirAsia have been trying to secure the rights from Vietnam to offer regular services to HCM by the end of this year.

The flag-carrier enjoys a load factor of 75-80% on the Bangkok-HCM at present.

THAI is using Airbus A300-600 jetliners, each with about 240 seats, on all its Vietnamese services.

Meanwhile, AirAsia, the parent airline of Thai AirAsia, hopes to commence a daily flight to HCM from its Kuala Lumpur home base by the end of this year.

AirAsia is already flying the Kuala Lumpur-Hanoi sector.

In another development, Malaysia Airlines will add more seating capacity to flights between Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi and HCM by using larger aircraft.