Long-Haul Low Cost Making a Comeback? The Case of Thai Air Asia X

Masakatsu Ukon, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – Thai Air Asia X, a long-haul low-cost carrier is making a comeback with its first flight on 1st June 2022 enjoying over 95% load factor from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport (BKK) to Seoul. 

Thai AirAsia X (XJ) has finally inaugurated this return of its first-ever long-haul service from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to Seoul, South Korea after a 2-year hiatus.

A successful return

Both the outbound and the inbound flights were loaded with keen holiday-goers, comprising both Thai and South Korean passengers. One can call this a successful flight as the load factor was as high as 95%. 

As has been reported before, the Suvarnabhumi to Seoul route will fly thrice weekly, departing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Furthermore, the airline is confident that airline will fly this route on a daily basis. 

Prior to the inaugural flight, there was a huge press event at the airport, attended by many influencers and the media. 

For its next route, Thai AirAsia X will start flying Suvarnabhumi-Tokyo, Japan commencing 1 July 2022. The respectively slow return to service is attributed to the Japanese government’s stringent border measures, which puts many tourists off. 

Mr. Patima Jeerapaet, Chief Executive of Thai AirAsia X said: “Everyone at Thai AirAsia X and our guests has been eagerly anticipating the return of low-fare flights to South Korea and Japan following the pandemic, and we are very pleased with the response we have received from our customers.”

“Pre-bookings for June and July have already exceeded 90 per cent, indicating recovering tourist sentiment to South Korea and Japan, the two most popular destinations amongst Thais.”

“Thanks to everyone who has long waited for the return of Thai AirAsia X, we are offering Suvarnabhumi-Seoul at a promotional fare starting from only 3,290THB per trip. Book this 30 May – 12 June 2022 for travel from 1 June 2022 – 25 March 2023 at the AirAsia Super App. Passengers who have credit accounts are welcome to use their credits for booking. We bid everyone to enjoy this return to normalcy in travel.”

Moreover, Patima took the event very personally and posted it on his LinkedIn page: “On June 1, 2022, Thai Air Asia X launched the first flight, Bangkok-Incheon, after it recently moved its aircraft to Suvarnabhumi Airport.”

“Importantly, this flight marks a milestone in my life since the airline takes off under my leadership and management. I am so thankful to God for the given wisdom and the committed staff team who dedicated their efforts wholeheartedly to give the best service to passengers and cargo logistics customers.”

“Referring to the first flight sales, all tickets are sold out which means 100% of seats are taken. This month the airline is set to operate twelve flights with a 95% load factor. Due to the discontinuation of airline service for 2.5 years during the pandemic, the airline had struggled with a financial crisis caused by accumulated debts.”

“The total cost of enormous debts including aeroplane lease fees, airport expenses, financial institutions, and passenger refunds, adds up to 25,000 MB. According to my plea, I have assurance in God’s love and guidance for my life. I ask God to continue to lead me daily in executing, data analyzing and performing administrative management in order to bring success to the airline,” Patima concluded.

Is Long-haul flying back?

Certainly in North America and Europe, but it is still early to say in Asia. The news of the Bangkok to Seoul route reaching 95% load factor is definitely a major headstart, but will this impressive load factor maintain over time is yet to be seen, especially when the airline will fly this route on a daily basis.

Thai Air Asia X is one of the first airlines to bring long-haul flying back to South East Asia, along with Air Asia X (Malaysia). Long haul low-cost flying is also prominent in South Korea, with the launch of Air Premia and T’Way Airlines.

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