Demand for flights between Thailand and South Africa has declined since the end of the football World Cup, but the sporting event has revitalised the route, say Thai Airways International.
Pruet Boophakam, executive vice-president for commercial affairs, said there was a “slight slowdown” in demand for THAI’s Bangkok-Johannesburg services with advance bookings at 50% to 60% of capacity.
During the football tournament, which took place from June 11 to July 11, THAI’s average capacity on the route was 80% to 90% with some full flights.
Despite the drop in demand, the carrier expects advance bookings to pick up with the start of South Africa’s peak holiday season which is attracting foreign tourists, said Mr Pruet.
THAI’s code-share with All Nippon Airways and South African Airways have helped the airline fill seats on its Boeing 777-200ERs deployed on the Bangkok-Johannesburg route.
The carrier operates three flights a week on the route with the twin-engine long-range jet which has 292 seats, 30 in business and 262 in economy.
At the same time, THAI’s recent shift in its marketing focus away from Thailand to cash in on international traffic opportunities has improved its ability to sell tickets to South Africa.
The strategy means the airline can feed global passengers into its international network by transiting through Thailand.
Mr Pruet said the airline was committed to aggressively marketing the Bangkok-Johannesburg route, which resumed on June 2 after being taken out of service for 18 months. THAI lost about 900 million baht on the route from October 2006 to January last year.
“We will never allow history to repeat itself. There must not be any more failure,” said Mr Pruet.
The airline will continue with the current frequencies of four flights a week.
“We will work toward stimulating more demand and adding more flights later. The outlook is pretty good.”
THAI shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 30.50 baht, down 50 satang, in trade worth 220.13 million baht.
source – www.bangkokpost.com