Lao Airlines outline expansion
BANGKOK, 25 May 2012: Lao Airlines will launch charter services to Seoul in Korea and Tokyo in Japan this August with a scheduled service to Guangzhou towards the end of the year.
Lao Airlines commercial director, Saleum Tayarath, told TTR Weekly that this year the carrier would expand more into East Asia starting with charter services, as early as this August, to Seoul and Tokyo, to attract inbound tourists to Laos. By November, it hopes to launch three weekly services to Guangzhou in South China.
“The charter services are both twice a week. We are now discussing the project with tour operators in those countries. As for Guangzhou, we are planning a November launch, but this will also depend on the documentation process with Chinese authorities which is normally slow,” said Mr Saleum.
According to statistics from the Tourism Development Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, tourist arrivals from Korea ranked sixth, soaring 42.66% (13,922) during the first quarter of this year, while arrivals from Japan, at ninth place, dropped marginally by 0.79%.
Currently there are no Japanese carriers operating services to Laos, but from Korea, the low-cost Jin Air recently started scheduled services, twice a week after operating charter flights for some time.
In the China market, China Eastern Airlines has been operating flights from Kunming and Nanning to Vientiane, while Laos Airlines, flies to Kunming and Jinghong. Arrivals from China grew significantly at 33.7% (60,146) and it is the third largest supplier after neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam.
Regarding network expansion, Mr Saleum said the carrier was discussing with Airbus to obtain A321 or A320 aircraft to operate medium-haul flights. It initially planned to acquire two jets, but this needs to finalise.
Lao Airlines has already ordered two ATR72-600s; one to be delivered in November and another in June next year.
As for the Chinese Comac ARJ21-700 covered by a signed Memorandum of Understanding for two aircraft, Mr Saleum said the airline had not been notified when they could be delivered. According to news report, there have been delays in the aircraft’s certification process. The launch customer, Chengdu Airlines was supposed to receive the aircraft at the end of last year.
Now the carrier operates 10 aircraft – two A320s, four ATR72s and four MA-60s.