AirAsia, the low-cost carrier has commenced its daily flights to Colombo from Bangkok with targetting 25,000 travellers on this sector in six months.
Thai AirAsia CEO Tassapon Bijleveld speaking with the Business Times said their targets were set on the basis that they would be able to achieve 75% load factor on the 180 seat Airbus A320. Commenting on the competition, he said "the pie is big enough for everyone" and noted this route would generate increased tourists between Thailand and Sri Lanka. The carrier's Australia-Bali-Phuket- Bangkok connections would now be linked to Colombo as well, he said with the aim of connecting exotic destinations.
The carrier started out by catering to their domestic clientele by opening up the Indo-China-Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia route and then moved beyond that to travel to other key locations, he said. He noted that this route offers AirAsia the opportunity to gain access and connectivity between new destinations with a strong demand and this new route would bridge the demand and supply between the two. Bangkok's attractions include Buddhist pilgrimages with temples, colourful nightlife, and its unique cuisine is now only three hours away from Colombo. Mr. Bijleveld "strongly believes" this new route is set to become beneficial for both Thailand and Sri Lanka generating increased tourists for the two key destinations within the next six months. Expected to become a "terrific boost" for the Sri Lankan tourism industry the airline offers customers fares 50% lower than the existing rates on the route thereby creating stiff competition in the sector.
The promotional fares would kick off from Rs.6990 per way (inclusive of tax and fees) via bookings online at www.airasia.com until March valid for travel on March 8 - July 31. The number of daily flights is likely to be increased depending on the demand after a period of about 6-8 months, he said. The inaugural flight attracted a load factor of 60-65% and forward bookings for the next three months had a load factor of 75-76% indicating that Colombo is a "promising destination to rely on." Colombo-Kuala Lumpur direct daily flights was the first route that the airline started out with when flying in first to Sri Lanka.