The air wars escalate
And the winner is the traveler
2004 has seen a price war between the airlines, all vying
to woo the traveler with lower and even lower fares. However, not all
airlines believe that the way to attract the tourist dollar (or baht) is
just to drop prices. There are other ways, according to AirAsia, one of the
newer groups to drop in over the Chiang Mai skies.
Fernandes, AirAsia Group CEO during the first press conference for the
inaugural flight of no-frills carrier AirAsia from Bangkok to Macau on July
Talking to Tony Fernandes, the Group Chief Executive
Officer of AirAsia revealed that he does not intend to have a fare war, but
more to make beautiful places more affordable for holidaymakers and business
people alike. He said, “AirAsia always tries to do things differently from
others. Macau, for example, has a great access to China and already now we
can say that we will start operating a second daily flight from September
onwards. We will also open the Macau - Kuala Lumpur route on August 23 and
our motto is: No more talk, but action! We will have five daily flights to
Macau in the next three month, two from Kuala Lumpur, two from Bangkok and
the fifth destination will be announced shortly. It will definitely be from
Thailand. We can already tell you that we operate on staying as a low cost
airline for a long time to come. If we are operating more flights, the costs
will even go down more, and flying with us at even the highest fare is still
cheaper than catching the lowest with any other airline. But the other
airlines do not have to be afraid as we are targeting different segments of
Helena Fernandes, the acting director of the Macau Government Tourist
Office extended a warm welcome to Tony Fernandes who was frequently asked if
the matching surname was yet another reason to use Macau as their gateway to
China. Chiangmai Mail will inform you about the old and new ‘adventure
zones’ of Macau over the next couple of weeks.
Thai AirAsia first no-friller into Macau
Cheaper than a bottle of Portuguese wine!
The maiden flight of the young airline Thai AirAsia on
the new Bangkok-Macau return route was packed. The earlier promotional
campaign of 670 baht one way for the first 6000 seats was snapped up within
six hours of its first day sales, an indication of the popularity of low
welcome on Macau International Airport when the maiden flight of Thai
AirAsia arrived on July 5, 2004.
It became the first low fare, no frills airline in
Southeast Asia to land at the Macau International Airport. CEO of AirAsia,
Tassapon Bijleveld revealed that AirAsia is working on more new routes, and
it is just a matter of coordination with governments and other parties to
see which destination becomes available first. Tassaporn said, “We are
very flexible and we very much want to concentrate on the China and
Indochina market. People queried us about going to Macau and gambling, but
I say that Macau really is not only a gambling destination, it is a gateway
to Mainland China and that’s how we treat it. From now until the end of
the month we have on the route Bangkok to Macau 100 seats booked daily and
on the return 148, which means full house. We soon will offer a second
daily flight and by the end of the year we hope to have another three or
four destinations in China. We will stick to the short-range flights of
three to three and a half hours and I do not think that we will extend. If
we have a hub somewhere we could. Where this hub will be we will see in
about two months when we look at the bookings again.”
CEO Tassapon Bijleveld between Helena Senna Fernandes, acting director of
the Macau Government Tourist Office and Deng Jun, chairman of the board of
directors and executive committee of Macau Airport Company at the press
conference in Macau.
Thai AirAsia operates a daily non-stop service connecting Bangkok and
Macau which is the 6th international point-to-point flight from its hub in
Bangkok. It will boost its extensive network in Malaysia, Thailand,
Singapore and Indonesia to allow for greater connectivity between the
Slow boat to China offers
luxury and breathtaking sights
Relations Department, Chiang Rai
A 300 ton ferry that can carry 80 passengers has been
launched as a further tourist attraction for northern Thailand, southern China
The vessel, “Mekong River’s Prince”, was launched at
Chiang Rai’s Chiang Saen port by the province’s Deputy Governor Sriprom
The Mekong River’s Prince is fully furnished and has a
restaurant on board. It can take passengers to Myanmar and upstream to Sibsong
Panna in South China. Along the way, passengers can enjoy beautiful scenery and
learn of the lifestyle of the people living along the river.
The ship’s company says it has secured the cooperation of
countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region regarding passports and the issuing
of border passes.
It is the first time that a ferry serves tourists and other
travelers on a regular basis, as previously large freighters were modified to
carry occasional passengers.
The ferry is being touted as a new selling point to draw
tourists to Chiang Rai city. The company is also offering a special promotion
for travelers. Please contact the Chiang Saen port in Chiang Saen district.
Pata reveals 21% visitor arrival growth for early 2004
Early 2004 statistics for international visitor arrivals
(IVAs) to 30 Asia Pacific destinations show 21% growth, the Pacific Asia Travel
Association (PATA) Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC) revealed today.
While these are only preliminary results reflecting the
first months of 2004, PATA Managing Director-SIC John Koldowski said signs were
positive. “The PATA region is on track for IVA growth of more than 15% for
calendar year 2004 compared to calendar year 2003,” he said. A direct
comparison of each destination’s year-to-date IVAs with those for the same
reporting period in 2003 showed that, in total, the 30 destinations welcomed an
additional 15.3 million IVAs in early 2004. (The reporting periods differ from
destination to destination.)
Koldowski said: “By taking a similar first reporting
period comparison back through to 2000 it becomes apparent that gains in IVAs
are consistently positive, with the 2004 result the best - in volume terms -
since 2000.” Comparing IVAs in 2004 with 2003 is not ideal due to the effects
of the SARS outbreak, said Koldowski. “However, the good news is that the
destinations that were most directly affected by SARS last year are
collectively well ahead in volume terms in 2004,” he said. “This is largely
due to the dramatic increases in flows to and from mainland China.”
The following bullet points represent direct and quotable
region-by-region commentary by John Koldowski:
While Singapore and Chinese Taipei are still behind the high
levels of 2001 and 2002 respectively, the lag is minimal and - assuming no new
negative factors - should exceed those levels very soon, especially as the
trough for May and June 2003 has yet to be factored in.
In South Asia, India and the Maldives have begun their first
reporting periods of 2004 with exceptionally strong growth rates.
In Northeast Asia, China (PRC), Hong Kong, Japan and Macau
are showing strong growth rates as well.
In Southeast Asia, arrivals through 13 ports into Indonesia
are at the highest levels for the reporting period since 2000, with Malaysia,
the Philippines and Vietnam also showing the most arrivals for five years. In
the Pacific, seven of the ten destinations for which provisional 2004
year-to-date data are available show the highest number of arrivals since 2000,
with the Republic of Palau, New Zealand and Samoa leading the way. The Northern
Marianas Islands and Fiji have so far posted slower gains but are still in
excess of anything since 2000. Australia and New Zealand are showing signs of
moving into positive growth territory after some periods of stagnation.
In North America, while there are signs of upward movements,
at this stage it still looks like a long, difficult and slow process before
record IVAs will be exceeded once again.
Nok Air to take flight on July 23
Nok Air, the truly Thai low cost airline, will begin flying
on July 23. Nok Air, dedicated to expanding the flying experience for all Thai
travelers, will begin regularly scheduled flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai,
Had Yai and Udorn Thani. Using 737-400 aircraft Nok Air will operate five round
trip flights per day to Chiang Mai, three to Udorn Thani, and two to Had Yai.
Nok Air’s first flights were to be on July 20, but as HRH Princess Maha
Chakri Sirindhorn has graciously consented to preside over the official launch,
which, due to scheduling will now take place on July 22, the inaugural flights
will now be July 23. Any travelers who have purchased tickets for flights prior
to July 23 will be offered seats on Thai Airways International flights to their
desired destinations at the closest times to their original departure.
Travelers wanting to reserve and purchase tickets on Nok Air
flights are offered some of the most convenient and innovative means in the
Travelers can now reserve and purchase tickets through the Nok Air 1318 call
center, or through the Nok Air website, www.nokair.co.th or at the Nok Air
counter at the domestic terminal at Don Muang Airport. Travelers can pay for
their tickets via the call center, online or at the airport using a credit card
(Visa or MasterCard). Travelers also can, once they have made their
reservations at the call center or online, make cash payments for their tickets
at all 7-Elevens with Counter Service Plus. Lastly, travelers holding Siam
Commercial Bank ATM cards will be able to make payment for their tickets via
any Siam Commercial Bank ATM nationwide.