Thai Smile Airways is doing a u-turn in its strategy under pressure of Thai Airways International, the carrier’s principal shareholder. On January 16, 2017, the carrier will definitely transfer its domestic operations out of Don Mueang Airport to Suvarnabhumi. Thai Smile was still offering a dozen of domestic flights to Chiang Mai, khon Kaen and Phuket. All the frequencies will then be transfered to Suvarnabhumi airport where the carrier will fly between 7 and 9 times a day to the three mentioned destinations.
This should be the last reshaping adjustment for the carrier according to Thai Smile’s acting Chief Executive Woranate Laprabang. Thai Smile is step by step reshaping its strategy on the model of Silk Air, the regional branch of Singapore Airlines. The carrier is now desribed as a “light premium airline” according to Thai Airways Int’l chief financial officer Narongchai Wongthanavimok to the newspaper Bangkok Post.
the airline will then con,tin ue to take over regional flights from Thai Airways where it can assure better profitability than its parent company. It will also open new destinations to reinforce Thai Airways hub at Suvarnabhumi. Despite being an ideal hub between Europe, South Asia, Australia and ASEAN, Thai Airways still lacks the density and the number of destinations to be a global hub.
Thai Smile is consequently due to expand its flights to new markets, with China, India and ASEAN being priorities.
From January 28, passengers will be able to fly Thai Smile to Zhengzhou in Henan province offering between four and seven weekly flights, depending of the season. On March 1st, the carrier will launch a daily frequency to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, East Malaysia. The route was previously served a decade ago by Thai AirAsia.
In 2016, Thai Smile expanded to India with flights to Jaipur, Gaya and Lucknow, to Malaysia with penang and took over again from Thai Airways International routes between Bangkok and Chongqing, Mandalay as well as Siem Reap. The target is to reduce the share of domestic flights in Thai Smile activity from 80% to 50% until the end of next year.