Thailand-based low-cost, long-haul airline Thai AirAsia X (TAAX) will put off any route expansions until further notice, that is, until the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) lifts the red flag it has put on the country for the safety shortcomings in its aviation industry.
ICAO’s red flag prevents Thai-based airlines from opening new routes, expanding current international routes and changing the type of aircraft they have on current routes. However, as it is left to individual countries to decide whether they want to follow ICAO’s ruling, Thailand-registered carriers continue to operate to China as before and even expanding the routes. On the other side, countries such as Australia, Japan and others are strictly following ICAO’s guidelines when it comes to Thai airlines.
TAAX to Start Expanding in Mid-2017?
Speaking about when this might happen, Thai AirAsia X Chief Executive Officer Nadda Buranasiri said: A good timing for our new route launch will come only after [ICAO’s] red flag is off, maybe in mid-2017.
Mr Nadda did not specify what countries TAAX is looking to fly, but he did mention the carrier was monitoring some countries in the Eastern Europe, as well as Australia for future coverage. Either way, TAAX should make the decision in the next six month.
During that period, TAAX will be able to utilize the extra capacity it got from canceling services to Muscat, Oman and Teheran, Iran and use it on charter flights. Some of this spare capacity has already been shifted to China. This means that Chinese flights are back in business, despite the recent problems with inbound Chinese tourist scams.
No Fleet Expansion Planned for Next Year at TAAX
TAAX also does not plan to add more planes to its existing fleet in the following year. This means the company will remain on its current six Airbus A330-300 wide-body aircrafts, which all have 377 total passenger seats.
Thai AirAsia said it expects to carry 1.1 million passengers by the end of this year and finish it off with revenue of 8 billion baht and a load factor between 82 and 85 per cent.