Home' Asian Aviation : AAV June 2010 Contents 6 AsianAviation | JUNE 2010
Thai airlines are cutting capacity on domestic
and international routes to weather a slump
in demand caused by recent violent political
turmoil in Thailand.
Flag carrier Thai Airways International, which
is worst-hit by the crisis, was poised to cut
capacity by 15 percent starting from June.
The carrier has suspended its daily Bangkok-
Sydney-Brisbane-Bangkok flights indefinitely.
The ten weekly Mumbai services operated by
Boeing 777-200 aircraft will be reduced to one
daily flight, while the daily Delhi service, using
777-300s, will be downgraded to a 777-200
service. Twice-daily Airbus A340-600 flights
to Dubai will also be downgraded to 777-200
services. The four-times weekly 777-200ER
service to Athens is being reduced to thrice
weekly and will be operated using 777-300s.
According to Thai Airways president
Piyasvasti Amaranand, demand on European,
Australian and Indian routes has dropped
"We are left with no choice but to take the
necessary measures to avoid further losses,"
The carrier's May domestic and international
bookings only accounted for 52 percent
of capacity, as 47 countries issued travel
advisories to their citizens about Thailand.
Piyasvasti said Thai Airways hopes to achieve at
least 70 percent bookings for June and July, if
the situation improves.
In the wake of a first-quarter profit of 10.72
billion baht (US$326.8 million) up 36.4 percent
over the same period last year, Piyasvasti is
worried that the second quarter will now be
hurt by the political unrest.
"Thai Airways was badly hit by the volcano
eruption in Iceland in May and now the violent
political turmoil in Thailand," Piyasvasti says.
The anti-government protests, which
started in Bangkok on 15 March have turned
violent and spread to Chiang Mai and Ubon
Ratchathani provinces. As Asian Aviation went
to press, 38 people had been killed and more
than 320 injured.
"We are hoping that the unrest does not
spread to other parts of the country, because if
it does it will have a severe impact on the local
civil aviation industry," Piyasvasti says.
Bangkok Airways, Thailand's second-biggest
airline is hoping to attract more local tourists
to Phuket, Koh Samui and Trat, the country's
three most popular destinations, as demand
from overseas tourists has plummeted.
Bangkok Airways vice-president Nandhika
Varavam says passenger numbers dropped 30
percent in April and 52 percent in May, while
bookings for June and July have also been
"We are feeling the impact of the slump
in traffic due to our dependence on the
international market that comprises 80 percent
of our passenger numbers," she says.
Bangkok Airways expects passenger
numbers to drop 70 percent, should the unrest
escalate. The airline will launch a marketing
campaign in July to promote Phuket, Samui
and Trat locally. The airline will offer free hotel
accommodation to passengers flying to the
The carrier has no current plans to ground
-- William Dennis
Thai carriers hurt by political unrest
Finnair has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI)
for five Airbus A321s equipped with new,
fuel-saving 'Sharklet' winglets, becoming the
first airline to commit to the aircraft with the
The Sharklets reduce aerodynamic drag and
offer the airline a 4 percent fuel saving on
certain routes compared with today's aircraft,
The commitment is part of an effort by
Finnair to make its fleet more cost-efficient.
Deliveries of the new aircraft are scheduled to
begin in 2013.
"Finnair sees the new 'Sharklets' option as
a significant jump ahead in terms of fuel-
burn savings, reduced maintenance costs and
payload-range performance improvement,"
says Mika Vehvilainen, Finnair's president and
chief executive officer. "This option enables us
to harmonise all our medium- haul operations.
We would also benefit further from the unique
commonality aspects of the Airbus family
cockpit, such as lower pilot and maintenance
John Leahy, Airbus's chief operating officer
for customers, welcomes the airline's move.
"We are pleased that, despite the difficult
economic environment and the challenges
faced by European airlines, Finnair had the
courage to look ahead and take a definitive
step towards greener aviation," Leahy says.
"We have been working in close cooperation
with Finnair since 1998, and this is not the
first time Finnair has shared a first with us. Our
Finnish partners were the first to make a firm
order for 11 A350 XWB aircraft in 2007."
Finnair now operates 41 Airbus aircraft,
including 29 A320-family models and 12
Airbus says the Sharklets are expected to
result in at least 3.5 percent reduced fuel
burn over longer sectors, corresponding to an
annual CO2 reduction of around 700 tonnes
Airbus has sold more than 6,500 A320-
family aircraft and delivered more than
4,300 to some 310 customers worldwide.
-- Andrzej Jeziorski
Airbus wins first order for 'Sharklet' A321
Bangkok Airways is shifting
its focus to domestic tourists
to make up for a slump in
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