Bangkok Airways is currently operating at only a third of its full capacity on domestic routes, as border curbs continue to hamper air travel recovery.
Of its fleet of 39, the airline is currently flying only 13 aircraft – six airbuses, and seven ATR72-600s – some on scheduled flights, and others on chartered flights.
Operating at such low capacities has impacted the airline’s revenue. At the end of November 2020, Bangkok Airways announced a total revenue of 903 million baht (US$28.7 million) for its operating results in 3Q2020, a decrease of 86.5 per cent year-on-year with net losses of 1,585.1 million baht.
Komkrit Ngamwongwirot, director of key account and ancillary product, Bangkok Airways, said that the airline’s sole focus is on domestic passengers for the time being.
“Similarly to other peers in the industry, we’ve had to shift our focus to domestic. So the message and the media have changed. Thais use a lot of social media, so instead of focusing on the traditional media which also costs more, we use a lot of social media as a medium to communicate with customers at the moment,” he shared.
Bangkok Airways used to heavily advertise its international routes – which was a major source of income for the airline pre-Covid, as it flew to 10 other countries in East Asia – and had earlier this year planned to resume international routes in 4Q2021. However, due to Thailand’s worsening third Covid-19 wave coupled with a lack of clarity from the government on a timeline for reopening to international flights, the airline has shelved plans for resuming international flights indefinitely.
“In the short-term, I see some consolidation of airlines post-Covid because of the financial issues,” Komkrit predicted. “In the medium-term, we see technology playing a big part for airlines. We’re moving to digital, API, contactless and biometric technologies. Also, new city pairs (may emerge for) airlines; instead of flying into big cities, hub and spoke, I foresee that in the future, airlines may be looking at smaller city pairs.”
As Thailand’s current third wave of Covid-19 is expected to intensify further, Bangkok Airways has announced that it will postpone the inauguration of its new flight route between Bangkok to Mae Sot until October 17, 2021.
As of April 22, the airline also reported that three routes will be temporarily suspended as follows: the Phuket to Hat Yai route from April 23 to October 30, 2021; and the Bangkok to Sukhothai and Bangkok to Trat routes during the entire month of May 2021.