Thai Lion to offer 40% lower fares than competitors

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Thai Lion Air will adopt an aggressive stance when it launches operations from Bangkok's Don Mueang airport on 4 December.

The carrier says it will offer fares that are 40% lower than its "nearest competitor", while also providing a complimentary 15kg baggage allowance.

Thai Lion will be operating Boeing 737-900ER aircraft, configured with 215 seats in a single class. This will allow the carrier to offer lower fares as the aircraft type can fit 35 more seats than an Airbus A320 configured with the maximum 180 seats, says a Lion Group spokesman.

He adds that the brand new 737s Thai Lion will be operating will also have a lower fuel burn and maintenance cost. The Thai unit will also benefit from the economies of scale as part of the Lion Group, which has large orders for Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

Thai Lion’s first flight will be on the Bangkok-Chiang Mai route, followed by services to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. It could also launch international services as early as 2014, to destinations in China and other parts of southeast Asia. In the future, it could establish hubs outside of Bangkok, and Chiang Mai and Phuket have been identified as possible bases, says the spokesman.

The carrier now has two 737s and will receive two more by March 2014. It intends to operate between 10 to 12 aircraft of the same type by the end of 2014. It could also add ATR 72s to its fleet, as the turboprop will allow the carrier to serve destinations with smaller airports and lower passenger demands, says the spokesman.

Thai AirAsia has, meanwhile, hinted that it will not let the newcomer affect its dominance in the Thai low-cost market.

Chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld says the carrier plans to almost double its fleet from 35 A320s at the end of 2013 to 61 aircraft by 2017. He adds that Thai AirAsia is also constantly improving its capital management so as to "offer the lowest fares on all routes".