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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Indonesia-based Lion Group expanded its fleet by 16 aircraft in 1H2016, cementing its position as the largest airline group in Southeast Asia. Lion now has a fleet of more than 250 aircraft while its rival AirAsia – the region’s second largest group – has under 200 aircraft based in Southeast Asia.
However a net gain of 16 aircraft over the last six months marks a slowdown for Lion. The group’s fleet grew by 59 aircraft in 2015 and 39 aircraft in 2014.
None of Lion Group’s five airline subsidiaries or affiliates added more than five aircraft in 1H2016, resulting in relatively modest capacity expansion. The rate of expansion will likely pick up in 2H2016 but not approach previous levels.
Indonesia’s Lion Group is preparing to build up its presence in the international market after focusing almost entirely on domestic operations in its initial 15 years. Lion is the largest domestic airline group outside China and the US, but has a small international operation that is only about the size of Poland’s LOT.
In a precursor to international expansion, the group has been raising its standards and seeking IOSA certification for all five airlines in its portfolio. Its Indonesian subsidiaries are also now in the process of securing an exemption from the EU blacklist.
IOSA certification and EASA approval should make it easier for the airlines under the Lion Group to secure approval from civil aviation authorities in several countries. It should also strengthen the Lion brand overseas and facilitate new codeshare partnerships.
Thai Lion Air accelerates international expansion with Beijing, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta & Yangon
Thai Lion Air is planning ambitious international expansion over the next few months, with the resumption of service to Indonesia and the launch of flights to Myanmar and Vietnam. The Lion Group affiliate also seeks to add several destinations in mainland China, including Beijing and Guangzhou.
Thai Lion has primarily focused on domestic expansion since launching services in late 2013. Further domestic expansion is planned for 2016 with the launch of three new destinations and more capacity on existing routes, but the focus is shifting to Thailand’s larger international market.
Domestic opportunities are becoming relatively limited as Thai Lion will soon serve all the main domestic routes and offer nearly as much domestic capacity as its two long-established LCC competitors. International expansion is necessary but also challenging, as Thailand’s short haul international market has become extremely competitive.
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.