Thai Airways International Plc has prepared its budget Thai Smile Air for take-off from Don Mueang International Airport on August 8 to snatch passengers from low-cost competitors.
The flag carrier will zero in on the high-margin premium market from Japan, China and Europe as part of the first phrase of its business rehabilitation plan while aiming to regain customers from official organisations and big companies in the country.
The airline is moving quickly on revising its revamp plan to focus on boosting revenue and cutting costs before submitting it to the Finance Ministry and the National Council of Peace and Order.
Suraphon Isragura Na Ayuthya, acting executive vice president for commercial affairs, said yesterday that after its carrier relocates its subsidiary from Suvarnabhumi to Don Mueang, it will serve three major cities – Phuket, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen – in the first phase.
Operating costs at Don Mueang are lower so it can offer lower fares.
"We hope to grab passengers from our rivals particularly AirAsia, which is now based at Don Mueang. We expect passenger numbers will improve by 20 per cent after moving to the new place," he said.
Until next month, Thai Smile Air is promoting introductory fares of Bt990 for Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen and Bt1,090 for Phuket.
THAI and its other airline Nok Air, which is also based at Don Mueang, will discuss rerouting and further cooperation in order to provide a comfortable network and most effective services.
THAI expects to move all Thai Smile Air operations to Don Mueang by next winter.
The airline plans to resume talks with government units and major corporate customers for new deals to increase revenue from the domestic market.
It will promise them higher service standards and greater satisfaction.
It will increase use of online reservations to reach out to more individual flyers and widen its base.
Online bookings are expected |to triple from 11 per cent of reservations today to 30 per cent by year-end.
On the international side, THAI will concentrate only on markets where it can draw premium passengers such as Japan, southern China, Scandinavia and Russia.
"We are now looking at it on a country-by-country basis so we can go straight to the right target. Premium passengers are our target now," he said.
Top management has vowed to make their carrier a Super Premium Airline with a more comprehensive range of exclusive services starting this winter season for routes to Japan and Europe.
"Our premium fare is already the most expensive among airlines in and out of Thailand, but we believe customers can afford it if they receive better service," he said.
The airline plans to add routes to existing markets such as Dusseldorf in Germany and seek opportunities to add other destinations into its network such as Japan and southern China.
The nonstop Bangkok-New York flight that was withdrawn is under reconsideration, but may need a stopover somewhere.
More marketing would be done in the low season by offering attractive promotions to fill otherwise empty seats, he added.