Thai Airways details three-airline strategy

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Thai Airways International intends to use a three-airline strategy to counter competition in the region and maintain its market position.

The flag carrier will offer premium services using widebody aircraft to international destinations, and only operate domestic services on the Bangkok-Phuket and Bangkok-Chiangmai routes, its president Sorajak Kasemsuvan tells Flightglobal.

The carrier will largely focus on regional services, as growth is expected to come from Asia in the coming years, he adds.

Meanwhile, its Thai Smile subsidiary will operate secondary domestic routes using narrowbody aircraft, and also supplement Thai Airways on the two major domestic routes.

"Thai Smile will also serve ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nations] connectivity for us. It will connect the rest of the ASEAN cities and connect Bangkok and other Thai cities to secondary cities in China," says Kasemsuvan.

Low-cost carrier Nok Air, which is 49% owned by Thai, will meanwhile compete on routes already served by Thai AirAsia.

Next year, it will also launch international services possibly to destinations in Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia and west Malaysia, says Kasemsuvan.

He adds that Nok will be enough to counter low-cost competition in the region, and that the carrier will not revive recently-dropped plans to start a new ultra low-cost carrier in cooperation with Nok.