Thai AirAsia Plans Singapore Route As Network Rebuild Continues

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Thai AirAsia has revealed plans to resume flights between Chiang Mai (CNX) in northern Thailand and Singapore (SIN) for the first time in more than a decade.

The LCC previously served the market until May 2012 when it exited in favor of launching a route from the Thai city to Macau. However, the airline will return to the sector from Feb. 1, 2023.

“Singapore is a complete tourism destination that has always been popular, with a high load factor average throughout the year,” Thai AirAsia CEO Santisuk Klongchaiya said.

“The direct Chiang Mai-Singapore route will give people of the north a convenient and affordable way to reach Singapore while Singaporeans can easily head to the unique city. The route will benefit the economies of both locations.”

Thai AirAsia will offer four flights per week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays using Airbus A320s. The launch comes as the carrier prepares to increase its base at Chiang Mai, the host destination for Routes Asia 2023, to four aircraft from December.

The base currently serves eight domestic routes to Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK), Phuket (HKT), Krabi (KBV), Hat Yai (HDY), Surat Thani (URT), Khon Kaen (KKC) and Hua Hin (HHQ), as well as four international routes to Hanoi (HAN) and Da Nang (DAD) in Vietnam, Taipei (TPE) in Taiwan, Kuala Lumpur (KUL) in Malaysia.

OAG Schedules Analyser data shows that Thai AirAsia will compete on CNX-SIN with Scoot, which offers daily A320 flights. Thai AirAsia’s entry to the market will increase two-way weekly capacity to 3,960 seats and give the airline a 36% share.

Klongchaiya added: “Our latest addition, Chiang Mai-Singapore, will make AirAsia the provider of convenient travel to Singapore as it will be flying Don Mueang-Singapore three times a day, Phuket-Singapore one time a day and Chiang Mai-Singapore four times a week.”

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Alongside Thai AirAsia’s new route, medium-haul affiliate AirAsia X has this week resumed flights from Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah (JED) in Saudi Arabia and announced the return of operations to Busan (PUS) in South Korea.

Kuala Lumpur-Jeddah restarted on Nov. 16 and will be operated six times per week, while Busan will return in “early 2023” having been suspended since April 2020.

“We are extremely pleased to return to Jeddah, a gateway to the holy cities of Madinah and Makkah for Muslims,” AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail said.

“This route has always been our success story in the past due to the substantial traffic between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, as well as the consistently high demand for Umrah services not only from Malaysia but also Indonesia, making Kuala Lumpur an important Umrah hub for the region.”

On the Kuala Lumpur-Busan sector, the LCC plans to offer three flights per week. It will become the airline’s second route to South Korea alongside its flights to Seoul Incheon (ICN).

In addition to relaunching the route, AirAsia X has signed an agreement with Busan Tourism Organisation to develop joint sales and marketing campaigns, leverage travel agents support, strengthen flight connectivity, and foster both countries' economies through tourism.

“South Korea is an incredibly important market and we have seen tremendous growth from our existing route to Seoul with around 80% average load factor,” Ismail said.

“Starting with three weekly services and based on strong forecast demand, we expect the flight frequency to Busan to return to daily services by year-end.”

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.