Lion Air Group reportedly plans to launch a Thai LCC subsidiary, Thai Lion Air, with the carrier already recruiting staff, according to a report from Bangkok Post. Thailand’s Civil Aviation Department director-general Woradej Harnprasert said: “Lion Air's entry is good for more healthy competition, giving passengers choice.” The start-up will reportedly operate from Thailand’s Bangok Don Mueang International Airport, using up to six Boeing 737-800s. Mr Harnprasert said the start-up was yet to apply for an air operator’s certificate, and Thai entities are required by law to hold at least 51% ownership in the company. According to the CAPA Fleet Database, Lion Air Group currently operates 15 737-800s, with a further 11 on order.
Lion Air Group to start Thai LCC subsidiary, Thai Lion Air: report
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At the same time AirAsia Group is slowing its fleet expansion, particularly in the Southeast Asia market. AirAsia is growing its Southeast Asian fleet by only six aircraft in 2H2014 and may not add any aircraft in 2015 as the focus will be on spooling up new affiliates in India and Japan.
If Lion does not follow AirAsia in slowing down growth in Southeast Asia it will quickly shoot past AirAsia. There is a risk market share gains will come at the expense of yields and profitability as several Southeast Asian markets are already suffering from overcapacity - but there is a larger strategic game being played out now.
Lion Air has opportunity to accelerate LCC growth in Indonesia after modest traffic gains in 2013
Lion Air has an opportunity to win back market share in Indonesia’s dynamic low-cost sector as competitors slow their expansion and in some cases reduce capacity. Lion in 2013 recorded the lowest rate of traffic growth among Indonesia’s four LCCs as its share of the Indonesian LCC market dropped from over 78% in 2012 to about 71%.
Indonesia AirAsia, Garuda Indonesia budget subsidiary Citilink and Tigerair Mandala all gained market share as they expanded more rapidly than Lion, albeit from much smaller bases. But Indonesia AirAsia and to a lesser extent Citilink are slowing expansion in 2014 while Tigerair Mandala has cut capacity.
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