Thai Smile, Thai Airways International’s light premium brand kicked off its first service to Macau on Saturday.
Thai Smile serves the destination twice daily using an A320 aircraft that departs for Macau at 0745 and 1640 and returns to Bangkok at 1215 and 2115.
There are now three airlines selling nonstop services from Bangkok to Macau in the Thailand travel market. They are: Full-service airline, Air Macau (twice daily), low-cost airline, Thai AirAsia (four daily) and Thai Smile.
Unlike the other two airlines, Thai Smile has to factor in business passengers who may transfer from TG’s full service flights. They would slot into the airline’s Smile Plus category. Seats are located in the first three to four front rows with the middle seat left vacant to give more space. Passengers are given a bigger snack pack.
Thai Smile fares include 20 kg of checked baggage allowance, seat selection, mileage accrual, a snack box and drinks, most of the services that are offered by full-service airlines.
It uses three A320 aircraft this year, while two more due to join the fleet in Q1 next year, two in 2014 and three in 2015. However, THAI has orders for another nine A320 which will be used mainly by THAI Smile.
After the Macau launch, THAI Smile will kick off domestic operations, 16 August, to Chiang Mai, Krabi and Surat Thani.
Services on the Bangkok-Phuket and Chiang Mai-Phuket route will follow 16 September.
By winter next year, THAI Smile should replace the full-service THAI on all destinations in the Greater Mekong Sub-region with the exception of Vietnam.
Once ASEAN’s open sky policy comes into play, 2015, any ASEAN region registered airline will be free to compete on capital- to-capital routes without frequency or capacity restrictions. THAI Smile will play a strategic role to rebuild Thailand’s role as a gateway to the Mekong Region and also offering the full gamut of intra-ASEAN flights.
TG executives believe the new airline brand will help to contribute business to THAI’s long-haul. The national airlines is considering a stronger role in what is called fifth freedom traffic that builds business beyond point-to-point services to a destination beyond. The target routes are Bangkok-Taipei-Seoul or Bangkok-Manila-Osaka. The airline offered services on these routes in the past, but pulled out believing it was better to offer nonstop flights to each destination.
There are also plans to extend the Phuket-Hong Kong service to Taipei in the winter timetable and to operate Sapporo via Taipei during summer schedule 2013.