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Thai airlines asked to justify high air fares

Flickr/Paul Rowbotham

Thai airlines have responded to accusations of high airfares, pointing to the rise in jet fuel pricing. The Airlines Association of Thailand will meet next week in response to consumer complaints about high ticket prices. Airlines, both international and domestic have been consistently higher than before the Covid pandemic – in some cases up to three or four times the earlier prices.

The CEO of Nok Air, Wutthiphum Jurangkool, says higher airfares are only seen during long holiday periods, when prices rise in response to a surge in demand. He explains that fares for last-minute bookings will usually be higher than normal.

However, he insists airfares are not being raised excessively in a bid to make a profit, saying airlines must adjust fares to off-set rising operating costs, which can be primarily blamed on the price of jet fuel. With demand dropping in low season, airlines face a challenge absorbing this cost and trying to avoid incurring losses on each flight.

“Airlines cannot get a strong load factor except during long holidays. With no holiday in September, domestic demand significantly dropped, with the average load factor lower than 80% for Nok Air, while the average price for domestic routes was lower than 1,000 baht per flight.”

Meanwhile, the head of commercial operations at Thai Lion Air, Nuntaporn Komonsittivate, says the average load factor for the carrier’s domestic flights has dropped to 75%. However, this is expected to climb to 85% during the forthcoming high season.

In particular, the airline is watching demand from the Chinese market, with hopes of seats being filled in October during the National Day holiday period, one of the biggest in the Chinese calendar.

While Chinese social media has seen some negative reports about tourist safety in Thailand, Nuntaporn says Thai Lion Air looks forward to resuming all 17 routes operated pre-Covid, as the demand is still there. She adds that the sector can be further helped if the government goes ahead with a plan to offer free visas to Chinese tourists next month.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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