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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AirAsia and Lion Air rivalry intensifies as Thai Lion rapidly expands
Asia’s newest low-cost carrier, Thai Lion Air, is planning further expansion in early 2014 in Thailand’s increasingly competitive domestic and international markets. The expansion will provide new competition for Thai AirAsia, leading to more overlap between the AirAsia and Lion groups.
All of Thai Lion’s current and planned routes are AirAsia strongholds. Thai Lion has already disrupted the three routes it currently operates by bringing down fares.
The shake-up will be extended to several other routes in 2014 as Thai Lion quickly expands its fleet from two to 10 aircraft. But Thai AirAsia, which also plans to add eight aircraft in 2014, will remain a much larger carrier and is well positioned to respond to the challenge as it has a stronger and more established brand.
Thai Lion Air focuses on domestic expansion, quickly gains scale on Bangkok to Chiang Mai & Hat Yai
Thai Lion Air is focusing primarily on domestic expansion with a mix of trunk and regional routes. Thai Lion currently operates four domestic routes, three of which were launched in Mar-2014 as the carrier took delivery of two additional 737-900ERs for a total of four and its first ATR 72.
International expansion will take a back seat in response to sagging inbound demand due to the continued civil unrest in Bangkok. But the start-up is experimenting with two regional international routes.
Thai Lion faces intensifying competition and challenging market conditions. But the medium to long-term outlook remains relatively bright as the Thai market should be able to support more LCC capacity, both domestically and internationally.