Thai Airways board of directors approved the establishment of regional carrier 'Thai Smile' (Bangkok Post, 20-Aug-2011). THAI's board chairman, Ampon Kittiampon characterised it as a "light-premium carrier segmented between full-service and low-cost". Thai Smile will commence operations in Jul-2012 using Thai's TG designator. It will eventually operate 11 A320 aircraft, four of which are scheduled for delivery in 2012. Thai Smile will initially operate short-haul services one to two hours from Bangkok. In the first year of operation, Thai Smile will fly to Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Chiang Rai and Surat Thani. The carrier will begin operating short-haul international routes within Asean, and to India and China in 2013. The carrier will offer a meal service, free baggage allowances and mileage accrual. Tickets will be mainly be sold online.
Thai Airways board approves establishment of regional carrier 'Thai Smile'
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Thai Airways will enter a new phase over the next year as it completes its transformation plan and starts to consider potential options for resuming expansion. Regional international growth is the most logical area to focus on, using the group’s full service short haul subsidiary Thai Smile.
Thai Smile currently only serves four international destinations. As Thai Airways mainline transitions to an all-widebody fleet the group will need a much larger international network from Thai Smile.
Thai Airways should also examine better integration of Thai Smile, following the model used by Singapore Airlines (SIA) with its full service regional subsidiary SilkAir. The current setup, including separate reservation systems and sales teams, is far from ideal and must be improved in order for the Thai Airways Group to close the gap with the SIA Group in key markets such as China, India and ASEAN.
Thai Airways uses Thai Smile to pursue rapid strategic expansion of ASEAN network
Thai Airways and its regional subsidiary Thai Smile are accelerating expansion in Southeast Asia as part of a new strategy for the ASEAN market. Under the new strategy, Thai Smile is increasing focus on Southeast Asia while pursuing closer integration with its parent airline.
Thai Smile plans to launch several new international destinations within Southeast Asia by the end of 2016. The new Thai Smile routes will boost the Thai Airways Group’s ASEAN network from 12 to 18 international destinations, while increasing capacity to some existing destinations which will be served by both brands.
The new strategy is a positive step as Thai has fallen behind its competitors in developing a regional network. The expanded presence in ASEAN – and the long overdue closer integration between Thai Airways and Thai Smile – should also generate new feed for Thai’s long haul network.