ASEAN Air Transport News Round-Up 18-23 March 2019

ASEAN, air transport, airlines, Bangkok Airways, Garuda Indonesia, Jet Airways, Philippine Airlines

Latest developments in air transport in Southeast Asia during the week of March 18 to 23, 2019. 

  • Bangkok Airways plans more flights to Cambodia

Thailand regional carrier Bangkok Airways is looking to further consolidate its input in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). According to internal sources of the airline, the carrier is looking at launching before the end of the year of flights to Sihanoukville, along the Cambodian Coast- out of Bangkok and to add an important link from Chiang Mai to Siem Reap, providing the first frequency between the two cultural destinations. Bangkok Airways in recent years strengthened its GMS network out of Thailand northern capital with flights to Luang Prabang, Han, i, Mandalay, Vientiane and Yangon.

 

  • India carrier Jet Airways reduces frequencies to Bangkok and Singapore

India second largest carrier Jet Airways is on the brink of bankruptcy. The Indian government is looking at a way to bail out the airline to avoid its collapse and has asked local banks to take over the debts of the carrier (US$1.1 billion). Low cost carrier Spicejet is also due to lease some of Jet Airways grounded aircraft. Jet Airways has been indeed forced to ground two third of its fleet, flying only 41 aircraft over 119. It has suspended over 50 domestic routes and a dozen of regional routes including flights to the Middle East (Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabian routes are all suspended) while frequencies to Bangkok and Singapore have been reduced.

Both Bangkok and Singapore are only flown once daily respectively from Delhi and Mumbai. Flights from Singapore to Bengaluru and Pune have been indefinitely suspended. Flights to Hong Kong are also terminated this week. However, the carrier still continues to offer connections from Bangkok and Singapore to Amsterdam, London Heathrow and Paris via Delhi or Mumbai.

  • Garuda Indonesia cancels Boeing 737MAX order

Indonesia national carrier Garuda Indonesia decided to cancel a command for 49 new Boeing 737MAX following two crashes of this aircraft model in Indonesia (Lion Air) and in Kenya (Ethiopian Airlines). The two accidents kill a total of 346 persons.

Indonesia’s national carrier Garuda will call off a multi-billion-dollar order for the jets, announced the airline in what is thought to be the first formal cancellation for the model. The information was reported by French news agency AFP.  “We have sent a letter to Boeing requesting that the order be cancelled,” said Garuda spokesman Ikhsan Rosan to the agency. “The reason is that Garuda passengers in Indonesia have lost trust in the plane.”

Garuda had already received one of the 737 MAX 8 planes, he said, part of a 50-plane order worth $4.9 billion at list prices when it was announced in 2014. Garuda is also talking to Boeing about whether or not to return the plane it has received, the spokesman told AFP.

Garuda would look for an alternative aircraft in the Boeing catalogue as it does not necessarily get rid off the US aircraft manufacturer, according to Garuda Indonesia director I Gusti Ngurah Askhara Danadiputra to local publication Detik. Indonesia’s Lion Air also announced to postpone the delivery of four Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Philippine Airlines likely to add more flights to Europe and the USA

Seattle and Chicago in the United States, Paris and Rome in Europe are the destinations that Philippine Airlines is looking in a very near future. Announced during the ASEAN Travel Forum by regional manager for Vietnam, the information was recently confirmed at the conference Routes Asia in Cebu by the carrier’s vice president sales Ryan Uy. A new route to Europe is likely to be announced before the end of the year for a start into the summer 2020. PAL currently only serves London out of Manila.

All these new routes will be served on a non-stop basis. In Asia, the carrier is increasing its capacity to Bangkok, Los Angeles, New York and Toronto and wants to increase frequencies to China but also to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.