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It may seem inappropriate to cut out the capital, but it’s an excellent way to keep the rest of the country’s tourism business on track.
Thai AirAsia (TAA) has excluded politically troubled Bangkok from its destination promotion campaign, which now focuses on other cities and services that fly through the capital.
The low-cost carrier’s campaign is in tune with the trend of international visitors to bypass Bangkok.
TAA is promoting its Fly-Thru service via Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport to other Thai locations, with passengers’ baggage checked through to their final destinations.
Chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld said the airline, like the country’s entire travel industry, is being affected by the anti-government demonstrations.
While TAA’s services to other domestic destinations are still doing well, direct flights from Bangkok to China and Indochina are not.
“We have seen almost a 30% drop in Chinese passengers and a 15% decrease in passengers from Indochina,” Mr Tassapon said.
TAA’s direct flights to its other Thai hubs — Phuket and Chiang Mai — are not heavily affected.
It also has fairly good load factors on the following routes: Phuket-Hong Kong, Phuket-Singapore, Phuket-Chiang Mai, Phuket -Udon Thani, Krabi-Chiang Mai, Krabi-Singapore, Chiang Mai-Macau, Chiang Mai-Hong Kong and Chiang Mai-Hat Yai.
For the ongoing Chinese New Year, TAA is still seeing demand and travellers booking domestic flights, with no drastic drop in the load factor.
Despite the political situation, the airline has not cancelled any flights and is operating to its original schedules.
Since its launch on Dec 1, the Fly-Thru service has become popular. The top three links are Ho Chi Minh City-Phuket, Phuket-Siem Reap and Chiang Mai-Ho Chi Minh City.
This year, TAA will add A320 jets, carry 13 million passengers, sustain an average load factor of 85% and grow operations 20-25%.