Thailand set to launch two more budget airlines in 2020

PUBLISHED ON Jan 21, 2020

While Thailand’s flagship Thai Airways struggles, two new budget airlines are preparing to take off in 2020. The past decade has been challenging for Thailand’s legacy airline whilst newer, more nimble and cashed-up players enter the market.

Both Thai Summer Airways and Thai Eastar Jet have gained Air Operating Licenses from the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand and are now in the process of gaining their Air Operator Certificates.

CAAT director-general Chula Sukmanop said that by law, new airlines must commence commercial flights within 12 months of being granted their AOL.

“Technically, the two airlines will have to go into operation before the end of next year.”

Both airlines planing to offer charter flights in the early stages of operation until their full schedules settle in. The two will be the first Thai-registered airliners to begin commercial flights since Thailand was red-flagged by the International Civil Aviation Authority in June 2015 due to “significant safety concerns.”

But in October 2017, the ICAO lifted the red flag, indicating that Thailand’s aviation safety standards now meet international benchmarks.

Thai Eastar Jet, a joint venture between Thai and South Korean investors, will begin by operating charter services between Bangkok and the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, but it plans to build a core business flying between Thailand and South Korea.

Thai Summer Airways, a joint venture between with Chinese investors, will concentrate on routes between Thailand and China using Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Both new airlines are jumping aboard the trend for increased Thai tourism, with tourist numbers in Thailand are up by nearly 3% in 2019. Western tourist numbers have flat-lined but Asian tourism is on the rise, especially from China and India.

Across Asia, incomes are rising and more people are flying more frequently, with more airlines taking up the challenge and opening more destinations. In 2019, 64% of all tourists in Thailand came from just four Asian countries – China, Malaysia, South Korea and Laos.