Thai Lion Air begins operations

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Thai Lion Air commenced operations on 4 December with the launch of twice daily Bangkok Don Mueang-Chiang Mai services.

The carrier’s first flight, SL8500, took off from Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport for Chiang Mai at 11:20 local time, carrying 212 passengers. A second daily flight to Chiang Mai departed at 15:40 local time, says an airline spokesman.

The airline started services with a fleet of two Boeing 737-900ERs, which have 215 seats in an all-economy configuration. It adds that it has brought forward the delivery of two additional 737s by one month to February 2014, which will allow it to increase frequencies and launch new services from Bangkok to Hat Yai and Singapore.

The carrier has also applied for traffic rights to serve Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, and hopes to begin daily services to those cities before the end of the year.

Despite the presence of larger competitors Nok Air and Thai AirAsia, Thai Lion believes that the Thai travel market has room to grow further. It adds that it will offer fares up to 40% lower than its “nearest competitor”, while providing a complimentary 15kg baggage allowance.

“The carrier's consistently low fares means people have the freedom to fly when they want to,” says chief executive Darsito Hendroseputro.

Thai Lion is 49% owned by Indonesia's Lion Group, with the remainder held by local investors.