Thailand's domestic seat capacity growth continued to moderate in 2017, with its six key carriers adding just 8% more seats on domestic routes compared with 9% in 2016.
FlightGlobal Schedules show that this is below the 11.1% average in seat capacity growth over the past 10 years, and well below the 24% growth in 2016 and 21% growth in 2017.
Thai AirAsia again led domestic capacity, operating 5.9 million domestic seats during the year, up 12.2% from a year earlier.
Nok Air remained in second with 9.6 million domestic seats, which represents just 1% in additional capacity from a year earlier. Thai Lion, in third place with 8.1 million seats, added 28.6% additional domestic seats during the year, putting it within range of surpassing Nok in 2018.
In terms of overall fleet size, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that Thailand's top six carriers had 252 in-service aircraft as of 1 January 2018, compared with 235 at the beginning of 2017. All of this growth was centred on three carriers.
Thailand domestic seat capacity
All data FlightGlobal Schedules
Thai AirAsia added five aircraft, Thai added six, and Thai Lion also six. Bangkok Airways, Nok, and Thai Smile had the same fleet size at the beginning of 2018 as one year earlier.
Overseas, Thailand's top five markets remained China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. The Chinese market continued to grow, with carriers on Thailand-China sectors adding a combined half a million outbound seats to hit 10.7 million.
On longer-haul routes, Middle Eastern carriers continued to dominate, making the United Arab Emirates, home of Emirates and Etihad, and Qatar, home of Qatar Airways, the first and third thickest routings beyond Thailand's Asia-Pacific connections.
Thailand outbound seat capacity to top five international destinations
SRS Analyzer shows that one of the key developments in Thailand during 2017 was the development of U-Tapao airport, a naval air station near Bangkok that is seeing increasing commercial use.
In January 2017, a typical week saw 70 services operated from the airport. During January 2018, a typical week will see 134 services. Weekly ASKs to and from U-Tapao tripled during the year to 29 million during January 2018, compared with 10 million during a typical week in January 2017.
Outbound seat capacity to top long-haul markets
The two biggest operators from U-Tapao are Nok Air and Thai AirAsia. In addition, Chinese carriers such as Hainan Airlines, Donghai Airlines, and Shenzhen Airlines have begun services to the airport.
Bangkok's two main airports also saw capacity growth during the year. Weekly departures from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi rose 5% to 3,414 in January 2018 compared with January 2017, while those at Bangkok Don Mueang rose 2% to 2,513.