AirAsia cuts Chiang Rai direct flight

SINGAPORE, 11 July 2019: Thai AirAsia will suspend its direct services between Singapore and Chiang Rai effective 1 August.

An airline spokesperson told TTR Weekly the decision followed a periodic review aimed at improving network efficiency.

The three-weekly service on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday was introduced in January along with direct services to Kuala Lumpur, Macau and Phuket.

The airline axed the four weekly flights to Kuala Lumpur in June and replaced them with a direct flight from Chiang Rai to Shenzhen.

Passenger uplift on the Singapore-Chiang Rai flight rarely exceeded 50 passengers per flight (TTR Weekly sampled six flights) on the 180-seat Airbus.

The flight departed Chiang Rai at 0700 and arrived in Singapore at 1100.

Despite the failure to gain sales at either end, the flight was both competitively priced and cut the travel time between Singapore and Chiang Rai to just three hours, down from six to seven hours using connecting services out of its Bangkok hub.

The roundtrip fare sold at around THB6,000 compared with THB12,500 using connecting services via the  Thai AirAsa hub at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport.

If there is ever a post mortem of this failed route the blame should be placed at the door of the airline for an absence of marketing particularly to the trade in Singapore.

But there is also the view that the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s offices in Singapore and Chiang Rai are not equipped to offer airlines route marketing and management support.

Pa Sak Tong Resort’s general manager, John Dunbar, told TTR Weekly the flight was exactly what Chiang Rai needed to drive direct travel from a strong upscale outbound market such as Singapore.

“It was great news, but the challenge certainly was to convince destination management companies to change their policy and use low-cost airlines in the region… they have a policy not to book up-scale incentive guests on low-cost airlines.”

The AirAsia spokesperson confirmed that passengers who hold bookings from 1 August onwards are entitled to choose one of the following service recovery options.

They can accept a one-time flight change to a new travel date up until 1 August without additional cost, subject to seat availability.

They can reroute the itinerary to connect in Bangkok (SIN-DMK-CEI) within 30 calendar days of the original departure date. There is no change fee for the first change and the offer is subject to seat availability.

Another option is to take credit. Retain the value of the fare in a credit account for future travel with AirAsia, with the credit to be redeemed within 90 calendar days from the date of credit issue.

Finally, they can ask for a full refund through AVA at Refunds for bookings made through travel agents, including online travel agents, must be done via the travel agent who made the booking.