Thai Lion plans to add 787s to fleet

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Lion Air's low-cost Thai unit has taken delivery of its second Boeing 737-900ER and disclosed plans to add 787s to its fleet.

Thai Lion's chief executive Darsito Hendro Septro says he is in talks with Lion Group to allocate two 787-8s to the Thai carrier in 2016, and use them to launch services to Japan and South Korea.

These 787s will come from Lion Group's order for five of the aircraft type.

In a ceremony on 1 November, Thai Lion unveiled its 215-seat 737-900ER to the media for the first time in Bangkok.

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Lion Group

Darsito says the carrier is aiming to launch operations in early December out of Don Mueang airport, subject to regulatory approval. Its first three routes will be from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

Next year, Thai Lion will add eight more aircraft to its fleet, the first of which will be delivered in January. It has also stated intentions to launch services to Singapore and destinations in southern China.

When asked whether there are concerns about the intensifying competition in the Thai market given the number of players, a Lion Group spokesman says "there is room for everyone".

“We will also be clearly differentiated, as we will be the ones that will provide consistently low fares. Other carriers may do one-off promotions but they will be unable to sustain it. We are able to offer consistently low fares because we will operate 215-seat 737-900ERs that will have a lower cost per ASK,” he adds.

Thai Lion has received its air operator’s licence from Thailand’s ministry of transport. However, it is still awaiting its air operator’s certificate from the department of civil aviation.

Thai Lion is 49% owned by Lion Air, with the remaining 51% held by a number of Thai investors, which have not been disclosed. Lion would only say that its partners are not airlines, though one is involved in an aviation-related business.