Lao Central Plans International Growth with Sukhoi Superjets

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Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen,
Editor, Routesonline

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Lao Central Plans International Growth with Sukhoi Superjets

Southeast Asian carrier Lao Central Airlines will become the second operator of the Sukhoi Superjet SSJ100 in the region when it takes delivery of the initial of up to nine aircraft it has on order.  The first aircraft for the carrier was recently painted in its full corporate livery at the Ulyanvosk, facility of the designer in Russia.  It has a firm commitment for three aircraft and options for six more and type certification for the SSJ100 has already been granted by the Laos Civil Aviation Authority.

Although relatively unknown outside of the region, the carrier holds the position of being the first private airline in the Laos People’s Democratic Republic.  It was founded in 2010 as Phongsavanh Airlines, part of the wider business interests of Lao company Phongsavanh Group, which is involved in international trading activities as diverse as timber, hospitality, telecommunications, banking and security services. 

A later rebranding took place in August 2011 to raise awareness of the airline as a Lao-based venture in international markets.  “We decided to change the name to make us more recognisable locally and abroad.  The new name will ensure that people know that we are a Lao company, operating out of Laos,” said Thongsay Inthisane, a senior adviser to the venture.

Lao Central Airlines hopes to expand business rapidly in what is a growing aviation market.  It is mainly offering flights in domestic skies with links between Luang Prabang, Pakse and Vietiane, which operates alongside an international service between Wattay International Airport in Vietiane and the Thai capital Bangkok.  However, it has ambitions to grow and serve destinations across Vietnam, China and Cambodia, before expanding further in the ASEAN region. 

According to Sukhoi Civil Aircraft the carrier is expected to use its Superjets, which will be configured in a two-class arrangement seating 93 passengers, on routes from Laos to Bangkok, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore.  The airline’s website highlights Kunming, China; Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Cambodia as other planned destinations for the future.

In 2012, through the operation of two leased Boeing 737-400s, Lao Central Airlines had managed to secure a 13.2 per cent share of the Laos domestic market against incumbent national carrier Lao Airlines and a 5.3 per cent share of international capacity.  In the table below we highlight the largest destinations from Laos by O&D passenger demand in 2011.  Thailand is the biggest overall point-to-point destination accounting for 38.4 per cent of the estimated 839,000 international passengers from Laos that year, followed by Vietnam (17.7 per cent), Cambodia (16.2 per cent), China (10.5 per cent) and Malaysia (5.8 per cent).

SCHEDULED O&D DEMAND FROM LAOS PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC (bi-directional O&D traffic)

Rank

Destination

Estimated O&D Demand (2011)

% Annual Capacity

1

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International (BKK)

290,059

34.6 %

2

Hanoi Noibai International (HAN)

125,263

14.9 %

3

Siem Reap (REP)

90,016

10.7 %

4

Kunming Changshui International (KMG)

64,382

7.7 %

5

Kuala Lumpur International (KUL)

48,005

5.7 %

6

Phnom Penh International (PNH)

45,865

5.5 %

7

Chiang Mai International (CNX)

29,273

3.5 %

8

Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat International (SGN)

20,702

2.5 %

9

Seoul Incheon (ICN)

15,536

1.9 %

10

Tokyo Narita (NRT)

11,705

1.4 %

OVERALL TOTAL

839,493

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