TVJ plans three routes to get underway in October

Thai Vietjet (TVJ) is targeting 3.5 million passengers this year as the travel situation seems likely to recover from rock bottom experienced during the two-month lockdown period.

As international travel shows strong signs of resumption in many countries, TVJ has to make an early move ahead of its competitors by planning three routes to two destinations — Singapore and Taiwan — from October, said Woranate Laprabang, chief executive of TVJ.

Of 3.5 million passengers this year, the international market will make up 15%, while the largest portion will be derived from the domestic market which is poised to fully return in November and December.

Besides domestic flights from its aviation base at Suvarnabhumi Airport, TVJ will connect cross-regional routes from Phuket to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Udon Thani, and resume flights from Hat Yai to Chiang Rai to catch up with returning demand.

“We want to fly 100-120 flights per day in the last two months or about 80-90% load factor which will be higher than our peak time in April that stood at 80 flights per day,” he said.

However, passenger demand in September will be moderate as some restrictions and requirements remain in many provinces.

The average load factor for September may reach only 50%.

Mr Woranate said the airline has 15 aircraft in its fleet and will add three more this year to serve growing demand. It also plans to increase its fleet by at least 7-8 aircraft per year from next year to be competitive in the more intense international market.

He said many routes in Asia which TVJ operated prior to the pandemic have a good record of virus containment, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.

If Thailand can recover from the current wave or if travel bubbles between countries can be initiated, air traffic will see robust growth and TVJ will look to quickly resume those routes again.

He said positive signs have been observed from Singapore which has a very strong vaccination rate enabling the country to reopen without restrictions to travellers from Jiangsu province in China, while Middle Eastern airlines are expanding rapidly to retain the aviation hub position.

“We can see that governments in those countries lent tremendous support to strengthen their airline business which is the most important component to bring in international visitors. Unfortunately, we don’t see such attempts from the Thai government as all seven airlines still have to wait for a soft loan from last year until now,” he said.

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