Thai AirAsia Expands South Asia Presence

Two new destinations in Bangladesh and India will join the LCC’s network for the first time.

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Thai AirAsia is looking to markets in South Asia for growth to help offset lost revenues caused by the prolonged closure of China’s borders.

Two new routes are being launched from Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK), connecting Thailand’s capital with Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and Lucknow in northern India. 

“Dhaka and Lucknow are new and exciting destinations AirAsia will be flying direct to for the first time,” Thai AirAsia CEO Santisuk Klongchaiya said. “On top of attracting tourists to Thailand, the unique and magnificent architecture of these two cities should make them another popular aspiration for avid Thai travelers.”

Flights to Dhaka (DAC) will start on Nov. 24, operating four times per week, while service to Lucknow (LKO) begins on Dec. 4 and will be 3X-weekly. Both routes will use Airbus A320 aircraft.

The addition of the two destinations come as the Thai carrier targets new routes to South Asia in the absence of service to China, a major market before the pandemic.

According to data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser, the LCC offered 24 routes between Thailand and China at this time three years ago, providing some 64,800 two-way weekly seats. However, all services currently remain suspended. 

“The South Asian markets have grown rapidly in the recent period and AirAsia now operates six routes to the region, flying Don Mueang to Kolkata, Kochi, Jaipur, Bangalore and Chennai in India and to the Maldives,” Klongchaiya said.

“All of the routes have been well received, especially by Indian travelers who have been connecting across Thailand. Data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand show the fast-growing number of tourists from India and South Asia have so far visited Thailand this year and the inflow is expected to continue into 2023.”

There were 480,825 arrivals from India during the period from Jan. 1 to Sept. 8, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand figures, placing the county as the second-largest source market. Only Malaysia was larger, with 751,397 arrivals.

The latest schedules show that Thai AirAsia will face indirect competition from three carriers in the Bangkok-Dhaka market but will be the sole provider of nonstop flights between Bangkok and Lucknow.

For the week commencing Oct. 10, Thai Airways flies Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK)-Dhaka 10X-weekly, while Biman Bangladesh Airlines serves the sector daily and US-Bangla Airlines provides 5X-weekly flights.