Thailand-China has emerged as one of the largest and fastest growing air travel markets in the world. There are currently close to 1,300 weekly flights from Thailand to China, generating 250,000 one-way seats. Seven years ago there were 200 weekly flights, generating only 40,000 one-way seats.
Chinese visitor numbers to Thailand are on pace to exceed 11 million in 2018, compared to less than two million in 2011.
The LCC penetration rate in the Thailand-China market has grown over the past seven years from only 7% to 44%, and is poised to increase further as all of Thailand’s LCCs are now banking heavily on China as they expand.
Thailand’s LCCs pursue rapid expansion in Chinese market
Thai LCCs currently account for approximately 32% of total Thailand-China seat capacity, compared to only 10% three years ago.
In particular, Thai Lion has expanded its Chinese network rapidly since launching flights to China in early 2016. Thai Lion is currently the largest airline in the Thailand-China market, accounting for approximately a 15% share of seat capacity.
Thai Lion is also now the fourth largest foreign airline in the Chinese market by capacity – and the largest from Southeast Asia (based on weekly seat capacity).
Spring is the largest Chinese airline in Thailand
Chinese LCC Spring Airlines is the largest Chinese airline in the Thailand-China market, with a 9% share of seat capacity. Spring has 22 routes to Thailand: 11 to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, six to Phuket, two to Chiang Mai, two to Krabi and one to Surat Thani.
China’s three main full-service airlines – China Eastern, China Southern and Air China – are the second, third and fourth largest Chinese airlines by capacity in the Thailand-China market. The China Eastern subsidiary Shanghai Airlines is the fifth largest and is also among the top 10 airlines in the Thailand-China market.
There are a total of 21 Chinese airlines serving Thailand, which combined account for approximately 54% of Thailand-China seat capacity. Only two of these airlines are LCCs: Spring and Lucky Air.
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