Thai Airways International will launch its new low-cost airline, Thai Smile, in July 2012, after settling on the name and finalising initial routes at a meeting last week.
The name “THAI Smile” was selected from some 2,000 titles posted through an in-house competition for staff.
In related news, the airline named vice president, corporate strategy and planning, Woranate Laprabang, as managing director. Other executives will be transferred later and staff will be recruited through Wingspan by the end of this year.
Reservations on the new airline will be available in early 2012 once THAI takes delivery of new A320s. It will use four of the aircraft to launch the airline and will increase the fleet to 11 aircraft within four years.
The initial routes are: Ubon Ratchathani; Udon Thani; Khon Kaen; Chiang Rai and Surat Thani, all routes that are currently served by THAI. Once the services are transferred to THAI Smile, THAI will focus on the premium market segment and stop serving these cities.
THAI Smile is a business unit of the national airline, not a separate company, so all flights will use the TG flight designator.
By 2013, the airline will start services to destinations in ASEAN, China and India.
According to the business plan the service model is light premium, not low-cost. Passengers will still get a snack, free baggage allowance, free seat selection and mileage accrual, but fares will be lower with possibly more frequency.
“We are confident that the initiative will be successful, and in combination with THAI, the market share on domestic routes should increase by around 5% from the present 38%,” said Mr Woranate.
On the joint venture with the super low-cost Tiger Airways, THAI president, Piyasvasti Amranand insists it has not been scrapped. Discussions on the subject are scheduled with the new transport minister, ACM Sukampol Suwannathat.
Source: TTR Weekly