Really Cool Airlines plane over clouds

Something Really Cool? Nine new airlines to take to the skies in Thailand

Nine new Thai airlines are set to start operations this year amid expectations for a sustained recovery in air travel and tourism.  The move is a clear signal of an anticipated revival in Thailand’s local and international travel.

Really Cool Airlines, which plans to offer scheduled services on medium- to long-haul international routes, is among the aviation companies that have won approval from the Ministry of Transport for operating licences, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand. The carriers have also been permitted to import a total of 60 aircraft as reported by Bloomberg.

Patee Sarasin, the chief executive officer of Really Cool Airlines, had announced last year that the new airline will focus on routes in Asia for its first two years, with flights to Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. European countries will be added to that list by 2025. He said the airline would focus solely on international routes to avoid highly competitive domestic routes, and that the airline aims to commence with charter flights between March and May this year.

Other airlines to debut this year are Pattaya Airways, Asian Aerospace Services, Avanti Air Charter, Siam Seaplane, M-Landarch, Bangkok Helicopter Services, P80 Air, and Asia Atlantic Airlines, according to local media reports.

Bangkok Airport exterior

Though some will focus on regional and domestic routes or have limited passenger seating, these nine new airlines are expected to add capacity to the Thai aviation market and to help boost tourism. Some of the new airlines may also operate international flights.

The new operators will compete with carriers including Thai Airways International, which is firming up an order for as many as 80 jets from Boeing, as well as Thai AirAsia for a share of the more than 130 million passengers expected to travel through Thailand’s six main airports this year.  This would signify a near return of passengers to historic levels in 2019, before the pandemic. In 2023, some 100 million passengers passed through the airports.

The Bangkok Post reported that in 2023, Thailand welcomed 28 million foreign tourists, with Malaysians leading the influx, closely trailed by Chinese, South Koreans and Indians.  Thailand has also waived visa requirements for travellers from China and India which had resulted in the arrival of more than five million visitors from these two key markets.

The Thai government has set a target of 40 million foreign tourists in 2024. Thailand, one of Asia’s most popular travel destinations, was visited by nearly 40 million tourists in 2019.

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