City Airways, a Thai start-up airline that has focused on the China market, is spreading its wings by adding three jetliners and launching its first scheduled domestic flights.
City Airways will take delivery of three Boeing 737-400 single-aisle jets before the year-end, augmenting its fleet of four aircraft of the same type.
The airline, owned by a group of Thai, Chinese and Hong Kong tour firms, will take delivery of three Boeing 737-400 single-aisle jets before the year-end, augmenting its fleet of four aircraft of the same type.
It is also preparing to launch scheduled flights from Bangkok's Don Mueang airport to Chiang Mai and Phuket.
The plans, disclosed by chief executive Thanabool Kerdskul, mark another step forward for the airline that took to the skies only in October last year with one B737-400 on charter flights between Bangkok and Hong Kong.
It has also operated charter services carrying Chinese tourists to Thailand, while in July it began scheduled daily flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong.
City Airways is due to take delivery of its fifth B737-400 in the middle of this month, the sixth towards the end of this month and the seventh by the end of this year.
On its radar screen are flights to Singapore and Myanmar, said Mr Thanabool.
In its medium-term plan, City Airways will seek to put B737-800s, a bigger model in the B737 range, in its fleet to support a plan to offer longer-range routes such as South Korea. Tight market supply for the B737-800 makes it more difficult to obtain the aircraft.
The average age of City Airways' B737-400s is about 20 years and the new ones joining its fleet will be about the same age, Mr Thanabool said.
As 80-90% of its business is dependent on the Chinese leisure market, the airline will be affected in the short term by Beijing's forthcoming move to toughen regulations to avoid a scam targeting Chinese tourists.
The so-called "zero-dollar tours" offer very cheap package deals to Thailand, where the tourists are pressured to buy overpriced goods and services.
Mr Thanabool said the airline's Chinese tourist business could fall by as much as 80% because of the new regulations.
City Airways is looking to other markets to make up for the lost business. This month, it plans to operate charter flights for Buddhist pilgrims to Bodh Gaya and Varanasi in India.
The airline, incorporated with 200 million baht of capital, has a workforce of 150, with 26 pilots and 60 cabin staff.
About the author
- Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business