Thai Lion Air
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Thai Lion Air is a Lion Group subsidiary carrier which launched services from its Bangkok Don Mueang hub on 04-Dec-2013 with Boeing 737-900ER equipment. The carrier operates on several domestic routes and provides international services connecting to other Lion Group hubs in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
Location of Thai Lion Air main hub (Bangkok Don Mueang International Airport)
LCCs will continue to evolve into hybrids of the original core model. CAPA and OAG consider Thai Lion Air fits the LCC profile and it is included in our reporting on this basis. Please note: when reporting for an airline is changed from or to LCC the historical data is not affected and it can lead to a distortion in the current reported data. Contact us if you have any queries.
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Southeast Asia’s low cost carrier fleet has passed the 600 aircraft mark as the region’s 23 LCCs added about 70 aircraft in 2015, resulting in 13% growth. The region’s LCC fleet has expanded by 50% in only three years, from 400 to just over 600 aircraft.
Nevertheless, LCC capacity growth within Southeast Asia slowed significantly in 2015 for the second consecutive year, as several carriers made adjustments in response to challenging market conditions. For the first time since the birth of LCCs in Southeast Asia 15 years ago there was a drop in the LCC penetration rate within Southeast Asia.
There was faster LCC capacity growth in medium/long haul markets connecting Southeast Asia with other regions, driven by a 37% expansion of the Southeast Asian LCC widebody fleet. There are now seven LCCs in Southeast Asia operating widebody aircraft, compared with only seven in the rest of the world.
Indonesia's Lion Group continued to expand its fleet rapidly in 2015 as several of its competitors in Southeast Asia slowed growth or restructured. Lion added a remarkable 57 aircraft in 2015 – its highest figure ever – and ended the year with 236 aircraft.
In doing so Lion overtook AirAsia as the largest airline group in Southeast Asia, growing its fleet by 32% in 2015 while the AirAsia fleet shrank slightly. The Lion Group is expected to add a similar number of aircraft in 2016, further widening the gap with AirAsia.
All five Lion Group carriers grew their fleets in 2015 by at least seven aircraft. Lion currently has 191 aircraft in its home market of Indonesia, 27 in Malaysia and 18 in Thailand.
Thai Lion Air plans to double the size of its fleet over the next 16 months, giving it a potentially larger operation than long established Nok Air by the end 2016. Thai Lion launched operations at the end of 2013, has already captured more than a 20% share of Thailand’s fast-growing domestic LCC market and should see its share exceed 30% by the end of 2016.
Thai Lion currently operates 13 737-900ERs and recently took delivery of its first two 737-800s, which it will use to launch services to secondary domestic airports that cannot accommodate 737-900ERs. Thai Lion plans to take five more 737-800s by the end of 2015 and add 10 aircraft, a mix of -800s and -900ERs, in 2016.
Thai Lion’s domestic network will grow from 10 to 13 destinations over the next few months. The carrier also resumed international services on 15-Aug-2015 with a daily flight to Singapore and plans to launch several destinations in China by the end of 2015.
Lion Group full-service subsidiary Batik Air has entered the international market with a new double daily service to Singapore. Batik becomes the eighth airline operating Jakarta-Singapore and supplements the seven daily flights already operated by sister LCC Lion Air in the world’s second largest international route.
The launch of Singapore is part of a major expansion for Batik in 2015 as the airline nearly doubles its fleet to 34 aircraft. Lion has been allocating most of its narrowbody deliveries this year to Batik and Thai Lion Air while growth at the main Lion Air brand has slowed significantly.
The new route is also part of a major push in Singapore for the Lion Group. Thai Lion Air at almost the same time is launching service to Singapore, which will become the first destination to be served by all four of the main Lion Group carriers.
Nok Air is planning more rapid expansion in 2H2015 and 2016 as the Thailand-based LCC adds another eight aircraft. Nok’s fleet is expected to grow from 24 aircraft currently to 32 aircraft by the end of 2016, giving it ample capacity to grow in both the domestic and international markets.
Nok will continue to pursue expansion domestically as it seeks to maintain its market leading position despite intensifying competition. But Nok is also making a major push in the regional international market with the launch of services to Singapore, three routes to Vietnam and expansion in Myanmar, which is currently Nok’s only scheduled international destination.
Nok is now planning to expand its new Dash 8 Q400 turboprop fleet to at least eight aircraft, enabling it to expand on secondary domestic routes and launch new secondary international destinations such as Da Nang in Vietnam. Additional 737-800s will be used to continue expansion on domestic trunk routes as well as launch services to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore and several destinations in China.
Bangkok Don Mueang saw passenger traffic surge by 50% in 1H2015, enabling it to become the world’s largest LCC airport. Don Mueang has overtaken Kuala Lumpur International (KLIA), which was until recently Asia’s largest LCC airport, as well European LCC airport leader Barcelona El Prat and North American LCC airport leader Las Vegas McCarran.
Don Mueang is unlikely to relinquish its new title as Thailand’s three main LCC groups continue to pursue rapid expansion. Thailand’s LCC fleet is expected to surpass 100 aircraft by the end of 2015.
Thailand’s LCC sector currently consists of 87 aircraft, up from 74 aircraft at the end of 2014. All but seven of these aircraft are based at Don Mueang.