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.
44 total articles
Thai Lion Air expects three years of losses; planning fleet, network and workforce expansion: report
18 total articles
Thailand passenger growth moderated significantly in 2014 as civil unrest drove a drop in international traffic. Total passenger traffic growth was in the low single digits, marking the first time since 2010 that double digit growth was not achieved.
Market conditions should improve in 2015, leading to the resumption of international growth, as the political situation stabilises. But overcapacity remains a concern as competition intensifies further.
Thailand’s dynamic LCC sector continues to gain market share and pursue rapid expansion. Thai Airways, which saw passenger numbers drop by an alarming 17% in 2014, is now in restructuring mode but any further reductions in capacity by the flag carrier will be more than offset by competitors.
Competition in Thailand will intensify further in Mar-2015 when Thai VietJet Air begins scheduled services. The new joint venture carrier will become the fourth LCC in a crowded domestic market that grew almost 20% in 2014.
But the Vietnam-based VietJet Group is pursuing a relatively conservative strategy for the Thai market. Thai VietJet plans to only operate three A320s in its first year and mainly serve international routes.
Avoiding highly competitive routes would be a wise policy as Thailand already faces overcapacity and it will take time for the VietJet brand to gain traction. Thai VietJet could become more of a niche player in selected lucrative growth markets such as Thailand-China rather than a significant competitor in Thailand’s dynamic LCC sector.
This is Part 2 of a two-part series of analysis reports on the VietJet Group.
Thailand continues to be an extremely challenging market with all four of Thailand’s main carriers reporting losses for 3Q2014. Combined losses in 3Q2014 at Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air and Thai AirAsia were about USD150million on revenues of about USD1.85 billion, continuing a negative trend which started in 2Q2014.
Thailand’s international market has been significantly impacted by political instability, which started in late 2013 and reached its apex in 2Q2014. Meanwhile the domestic market has been impacted by overcapacity, driven by rapid expansion from Thailand’s three low-cost carriers and a slowdown in the local economy.
The pace of recovery in Thailand’s economy and tourism sector has so far been slower than anticipated. There should be some improvement in 4Q2014 but a full recovery is not likely until at least 2015.
Thai Lion Air expands domestic network, intensifying competition with Nok, Thai AirAsia & Thai Smile
Thai Lion Air is pursuing further domestic expansion with the new LCC launching four more trunk routes from its Bangkok Don Mueang base. The expansion threatens to exacerbate the overcapacity situation in Thailand’s domestic market, which has become unprofitable in 2014 despite continued double digit passenger growth due to intense competition pressuring yields.
Thai Lion, which launched services in Dec-2013, has so far focused almost entirely on the domestic market. By early Oct-2014 Thai Lion will have captured about an 8% share of domestic capacity and be competing on six of Thailand’s seven largest domestic routes.
The expansion at Thai Lion comes ahead of the planned launch of Thai VietJet Air, which plans to become the fourth LCC in the domestic market. Thai VietJet’s entrance could exacerbate the current overcapacity situation and make it even more difficult for a return to profitability.
The Lion Air Group has started to slow its capacity expansion in the intensely competitive Southeast Asian market, joining competitors in adjusting fleet plans in response to overcapacity and challenging market conditions.
The group, which consists of five airlines in three Southeast Asian countries, was initially planning to add at least 32 aircraft in 2H2014. An adjustment of three to six aircraft has been pursued by using its leasing subsidiary to start placing aircraft outside the group. Lion also has fallen behind its 3Q2014 target by several aircraft but at least for now expects to make it up in 4Q2014.
The group will again not end up placing in Southeast Asia all 60 aircraft slated for delivery in 2015 as its leasing subsidiary Transportation Partners further ramps up third party activity. But Lion is still on track to expand its fleet at a much faster rate than rival groups, enabling it to overtake or widen the gap with competitors.
Lion Air Group’s pace of expansion is about to accelerate as it takes delivery of its first A320 and increases its 737 delivery rate. The group plans to add over 30 aircraft in 2H2014 as it increases its overall average monthly intake from three to five aircraft – a rate it will maintain in 2015, resulting in a staggering 60 deliveries next year.
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.