Bangkok-based long-haul airline Thai AirAsia X has scheduled four charter flights between Bangkok and the Croatian capital Zagreb in May and October. However, seeing that AirAsia recently announced it is suspending almost all flight operations, will these actually go ahead?
AirAsia is not flying right now
Simple Flying reported on Thursday that AirAsia is temporarily parking almost all of its fleet as a consequence of severe travel restrictions imposed by countries across the world to which AirAsia affiliate airlines operate.
Earlier this month, the airline had an incredible promotion called the Big Sale with deals on flights scheduled until 1st of July 2021. Tickets were being sold with either very heavy discounts, or completely free. Passengers only had to pay the tax charge, which on some flights amounted to as little as $2.83.
Flights from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul in Korea, and to Australia’s Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, and Taipei in Taiwan, were priced at just $16 during the sale.
However, even though these reductions were incredible, they clearly were not enough to stimulate sufficient demand for air travel. Thus, AirAsia is now parking much of its fleet.
Unlike AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X has actually suspended all flights, not just international ones. The suspension started on the 16th of March and will last for three months. It is therefore unclear whether the scheduled charter flights from Bangkok to Zagreb will even take place.
The charter flights
Ex-Yu Aviation News reports that five rotations have been scheduled for the planned Thai AirAsia X charter services from Bangkok to Zagreb.
The dates are the 1st of May, the 6th of May, the 11th of May, the 13th of October and the 19th of October. Clearly, the scheduling is done to cater for tourist demand outside of the peak holiday season. An Airbus A330 will be operating the flights on all dates.
Thai AirAsia X is relying on evidence of existing demand to support these charter services. Presently, passengers wishing to reach Zagreb from Bangkok have a variety of connecting options of reasonable affordability.
For example, for a seven-day journey departing Saturday 3 October and returning Saturday 10 October, options include:
- Emirates ($750): a 14-hour journey with a stop in Dubai of under two hours
- Turkish Airlines ($750): a 14-hour overnight journey with a stop of under two hours in Istanbul Airport for (though this might be a very short stopover given the difficulties Istanbul’s new airport is facing)
- Turkish Airlines ($680): a 15.5-hour daytime journey with a stop in Istanbul of under three hours
- Qatar Airways ($700): a 15-hour journey with a 1.5 hour stop in Doha
- Austrian Airlines ($675): a 13-hour journey with a one-hour stop in Vienna
- Eva Air and Croatia Airlines ($2,000): a 13.5-hour journey with a 1.5-hour stop in Vienna
- Air France ($785): a 17-hour journey with a three-hour stop in Paris
- Lufthansa and Croatia Airlines ($785): a 17.5-hour journey with a four-hour stop in Frankfurt
For a relatively small market, and given that Zagreb Airport is not highly attractive to airlines, this is a highly satisfactory range of services. Stopovers as short as one hour are on offer, and competition from carriers of various alliances keeps prices reasonably low.
Thai AirAsia X will be entering an already crowded market.