Interview: Nadda Buranasari, CEO Thai AirAsia X

Thai AirAsiaX, long-haul low-cost, Japan

Thai AirAsia X just announced to open a new daily flight from Bangkok Don Mueang to Nagoya Chubu International airport. ASEAN.travel spoke to TAA X CEO Nadda Buranasari about Nagoya, Japan and new perspectives for the long-haul carrier in Bangkok.

Thai AirAsia X choice of Nagoya makes sense: it is Japan fourth largest city while local AirAsia Japan chose Chubu Centrair International Airport as its main base with flights to Sapporo.

Flights will begin on October 30, 2018 with promotional fares offered on AirAsia website until August 5, 2018. Nagoya-Chubu is the fourth destination served in Japan by the low-cost long-haul carrier, which also served up to three times daily Tokyo, twice a day Osaka-Kansai and once a day Sapporo-Chitose. The airline also flies up to three times daily to Seoul Incheon as well as daily to Shanghai.

During the launch, ASEAN.travel managed to interview Nadda Buranasiri, CEO of Thai AirAsia X.

How is Thai AirAsia X positioned in Japan?

Nadda Buranasiri- We are the low-cost long-haul carrier with the largest coverage of destinations in Japan as Nagoya will be the airline’s fourth destination. This is the second route we open this year. We inaugurate in April a daily flight to Sapporo, a route that we served in the past but that we had to suspend when Thai carriers were partially banned from Japan following ICAO warning on safety issues.

How is traffic going between Thailand and Japan?

N.B.- Traffic between Japan and Thailand remains very active. Both countries have seen a rise in arrivals. Japanese outbound to Thailand represents 1.2 to 1.3 million arrivals per year while Thailand inbound to Japan was close to a million arrivals last year. Growth for the first half of 2018 is very promising as we see Thai inbound up by 12% while Japanese outbound is up by 14% . I am confident that Nagoya will then prove popular as did our other routes.

Why did it take so much time for you to fly to Nagoya after Tokyo and Osaka? 

N.B.- They are many factors. In Thailand few people know Nagoya and it took also time to secure traffic rights there. Regarding the lack of knowledge of Nagoya and Chubu region in Thailand, we did our own promotional videos, sending during two weeks a team to go all around Chubu and realize our promotional movie for the destination. We featured it in a very edutainment way and our video will be present on all of our social media networks. And we must Nagoya is a perfect complement to fly into or from with Osaka and Tokyo as it is halfway from both towns.

Are you looking to position more Bangkok as a hub for long haul flights from the neighbouring countries served by the AirAsia Group?

N.B.- This is actually our next strategical move. Bangkok is a natural destination for most travellers coming to Thailand on both Thai AirAsia and Thai AirAsiaX. We probably did not emphasize enough the convenience of using also Bangkok Don Mueang as a hub. We see the emergence of a middle class in Cambodia, Myanmar or Vietnam and wwe can then capitalize on those new travellers. We definitely can better promote Bangkok as a gateway to the rest of Thailand.

We also can promote the authenticity of destinations located in Mekong countries as well as Medan or Penang to visitors from Northeast Asia. the fact that Myanmar will remove visas for Japanese and Korean is an encouragement to stimulate transfer traffic at Bangkok Don Mueang especially as the airport is easy and efficient for passengers. We guarantee for example connections of 90 minutes there and propose luggage transfer.

Where would you expand next? Are they more destinations in Japan ?

N.B- The four destinations we serve give already a large coverage. They are of course secondary cities such as Fukuoka, Sendai or also Okinawa. However, would these cities fit into a large capacity aircraft? This is something to study. In Korea, we already offer three daily flights to Seoul. Of course they are more Chinese destinations that we could serve in the future. We currently study a possible launching of flights to Taipei as there is increasing interest from the Thai side to go there.

Could you in the future fly to Europe?

N.B.- it is of course a possibility as we will receive new aircraft, particularly the Airbus A330neo. This would then allow us to focus on Europe…