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AirAsia exploring future opportunities in Northeast Asia: Chinese affiliate enticing, but difficult
AirAsia is doubling down its focus on North Asia with a regional office in Hong Kong overseen by former AirAsia executive Kathleen Tan, who is widely credited for AirAsia's strong Chinese relations and growth in China: AirAsia is the largest non-greater China airline company in the country. Across North Asia the opportunities are large, but the challenges equally big. A China-based AirAsia affiliate would appear to be a long term ambition.
More immediately, AirAsia is regaining a local Northeast Asia presence with the launch of AirAsia Japan Mk II in 2017. Although delayed from initial 2015 start-up projections, AirAsia Japan gives the group relevance in a large domestic market and significantly growing short haul international market.
Elsewhere in Northeast Asia the opportunities are mixed. Korea and Hong Kong are becoming saturated and remain protectionist. Macau and Taiwan are unlikely to be big enough to support a local AirAsia unit.
Bangkok Airways to pursue expansion in China and Taiwan in 2017 with new routes and partnerships
Bangkok Airways is focusing expansion in 2017 on the greater China market, with three new destinations and three new airline codeshare partners. China point of sale now accounts for 8% of revenues for Bangkok Airways – up from approximately 4% in 2015, with further large gains expected in 2017.
Bangkok Airways resumed services to mainland China in mid-2016 after a seven-year hiatus with flights from Samui to Chengdu. In Jan-2017 Chengdu is being upgraded to daily, and a daily service from Samui to Guangzhou will be launched. Samui-Chongqing is planned for later in 2017, giving Bangkok Airways three destinations in mainland China and four when Hong Kong is included.
Bangkok Airways is also planning to launch services from Samui to Taipei by the end of 2017. It already has codeshares with both of Taiwan’s main airlines – which will likely be expanded – and with Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific, but its relationships with mainland Chinese airlines are now limited to interlines.