BANGKOK, 23 September 2019: AirAsia has added a new direct route out of its Chiang Rai hub that struggles to remain commercially viable for the airline.
The new service flies four times weekly to Hangzhou in China, but it comes at a time when the airline is cutting services from Chiang Rai.
Efforts to establish the Chiang Rai hub earlier this year plummeted when the airline cancelled direct flights to Macau, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur claiming the routes failed to sustain breakeven cabin factors. It launched the flights during the low-season months, a strategy that puzzled airline observers. Checks by TTR Weekly showed the airline failed to recruit tour companies in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to support sales on the routes.
Tour operators said the routes should have started this October ahead of the up-coming high season rather than at the tail-end of the peak season last February.
But to add to travellers’ fears, the airline has now axed most of its direct flights from Chiang Rai. It cancelled the service to Hat Yai and Phuket flights earlier this month, leaving just one direct flight to Shenzhen in China and domestic flights to Bangkok.
It had served Hat Yai for three years, while the Phuket three-weekly service started last January just a month before the low season kicked in. Then to add to the airline’s troubles, smog blanketed all of Thailand’s northern provinces.
It also found it challenging to compete with Vietjet that offers a daily flight on the Chiang Rai – Phuket route.
It appears the airline has narrowed down its direct flight options out of Chiang Rai to cities in China. There is a strong demand for trips to Chiang Rai from China package tour operators.
Sales for the four times weekly service between Chiang Rai and Hangzhou opened at the weekend with an introductory promotional fare starting from THB2,590* each way.
Hangzhou, one of China’s oldest cities, is home to picturesque sites such as Xihu Lake, Lingyin Temple and Leifeng Pagoda, making it a cultural and artistic haven for many.
Moreover, the city is a beautiful destination for travellers looking to enjoy cool weather and snow. With easy access to a high-speed bullet train, visitors are also able to connect from Hangzhou to Shanghai in just one hour.
AirAsia Thailand CEO Santisuk Klongchaiya said: “We hope to be able to attract more Chinese tourists to Chiang Rai, as well as allow Chiang Rai locals to visit Hangzhou, China.”
He claimed that direct flights from Chiang Rai were growing from strength to strength a statement that does not bear serious scrutiny.
To celebrate the launch of the new services, AirAsia is offering promotional all-in members fares for Chiang Rai – Hangzhou starting from only THB2,590* one way. Bookings are available from today until 6 October 2019 for travel from 1 December 2019 to 27 March 2019 on airasia.com or the AirAsia mobile app.
Promotional all-in-fares are for AirAsia BIG members only. All-in non-member fares start from THB2,630 for one-way travel, inclusive of taxes.