Thai AirAsia, the Thai subsidiary of AirAsia, is pulling out of the highly contested Bangkok-New Delhi route. The withdrawal will begin with a reduction to four flights a week from February 14 and full suspension from March 24, 2012.
TAA became the first low-cost carrier to operate the Thailand-India sector in December 2010, with flights from the Thai capital to New Delhi and Kolkata.
TAA’s announcement of axing the Bangkok-New Delhi service came a week after its affiliated long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X decided to end flights from Kuala Lumpur to Gatwick airport in London and Orly in Paris.
Azran Osman-Rani, AirAsia X’s chief executive, said visa restrictions for travel between India and Malaysia and an increase in airport and handling charges in India forced the withdrawal.
AirAsia X plans to focus on its core markets in Australia, China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, opening new services and stepping up frequency.
While Mr Tassapon insisted India is a priority destination for TAA, he said any Indian route must allow for low fares.
He stressed that TAA’s daily Bangkok-Kolkata service remains intact.
Dropping the Bangkok-New Delhi route is also meant to improve efficiency and enable a focus on new international and domestic routes this year as TAA takes delivery of more A320 jets.
The first quarter will see three new routes from Bangkok to Trang province, which began on Jan 15; to Nakhon Phanom province, set to begin Feb 15; and to Colombo from March 1.
TAA will offer passengers who hold bookings on Bangkok-New Delhi an alternative travel option at no additional cost or a full refund.
The airline has been looking to serve more Indian cities such as Bangalore and Chennai from Bangkok. It was unclear yesterday whether that plan will be affected by circumstances leading to the end of Bangkok-New Delhi service.